Despite WhatsApp offering end-to-end encryption for chats, that doesn’t extend to messages (and other media) backed up to Google Drive or iCloud. Instead, they’re only protected by server-side encryption and the respective cloud services can decrypt them if ever the need arose. If you’re a privacy-conscious individual, then that’s less than ideal.
A little while ago, it was spotted that WhatsApp was working on a new feature to let you encrypt your chat backups with a password. The feature recently rolled out for beta users a few days ago, though it was pulled in a subsequent update.
As reported by WABetaInfo, the feature was rolling out as part of WhatsApp beta version 184.108.40.206. It worked by requiring you to choose a password for encrypting future backups, and it’s always needed to put the password in when restoring a backup. The password is entirely private and not shared with any of the services that it passes through, be it WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, or Apple. You can also use a 64-digit encryption key instead of a password if you want, though you’ll never be able to restore your chats if you lose it.
The encryption key only contains numeric digits and lowercase letters between a and f. You’ll want to store the encryption key safely, as WhatsApp will not be able to help you recover your chats if you lose it. It prevents unauthorized access to your chats and can work even on local backups so that you can store them safely wherever you want, without then running the risk of them being stolen and accessed by someone else.
As previously mentioned, the rollout of end-to-end encryption for cloud chat backups has been temporarily paused due to connection issues, but hopefully, it’ll begin to roll out again soon. Make sure to download the latest version of WhatsApp from Google Play or an APK hosting site so you’ll have access to the feature as soon as it becomes available.