WhatsApp has been rolling out new features left and right in a renewed push to catch up with Telegram. Over the last month, the Facebook-owned company has added several useful additions to its instant messaging app, such as new options for sending high-quality photos and videos, multi-device support, a new calling UI for group calls, and auto-expiring media. WhatsApp also recently started testing end-to-end encryption for cloud backups, and now they’re preparing to expand this to local backups.
Although WhatsApp has offered end-to-end encryption for chats since 2014, both cloud and local chat backups are exempt from it. That finally changed when WhatsApp began testing end-to-end encryption support for backups stored on Google Drive and iCloud. And now WABetainfo reports that WhatsApp is looking to apply the same level of encryption to locally stored backups.
🆕 WhatsApp is also working to bring end-to-end encrypted LOCAL backups on WhatsApp beta for Android!
They were working on E2EE backups on Google Drive, but they will extend the feature for local backups as well.
This feature will be available in a future update. pic.twitter.com/2YbulmqiUQ
— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) August 3, 2021
End-to-end encryption will prevent unauthorized access to your chat history and media. WhatsApp will ask you to set a password to encrypt your cloud and local backups. You can also generate a 64-bit encryption key instead of a password. The next time when you restore your WhatsApp chats from Google Drive or local backup, you’ll need to enter this password/encryption key.
A word of caution, though: if you lose your phone, encryption key, or forgot your password, you won’t be able to restore your backup, and WhatsApp can’t help you either as the password/encryption key is entirely private and not shared with WhatsApp, Google, Facebook or Apple.
End-to-end encryption for cloud and local backups hasn’t been rolled out to WhatsApp users at large. Last month, WhatsApp attempted a limited rollout of encrypted cloud backups with beta users but temporarily halted it due to connection issues. We’ll be sure to let you know once end-to-end encryption for the cloud and local backups start rolling out widely.