Your WhatsApp chats, more private: encrypted backups reach everyone

Mark Zuckerberg has announced the launch of one of the most anticipated features of WhatsApp, protected backups.

WhatsApp is a messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption; that means that only the participants have the key necessary to decrypt their messages and no one else, not even WhatsApp, can read them. That has been the cornerstone of the service for years, even after it was acquired by Facebook.

But this security has a weak point: the backups. If, for example, we do not want our messages and chats to be lost after changing mobile, we have the option of activating a backup in the Apple or Google cloud, depending on whether we use iPhone or Android. But until now, that meant storing them with reduced security, and Apple or Google being able to ‘crack’ the content.

The new functionality, implemented today for all WhatsApp users, avoids this by applying end-to-end encryption also on the backup; therefore we we will be the only ones who can access the messages stored. This has turned out to be somewhat more complicated than it seems, due to the very nature of encryption and WhatsApp.

It is much easier for the user to create an encrypted backup of the chats. We just have to open Settings or Configuration, enter “Chats”, “Backup” and “End-to-end encrypted backup”.

We click on “Continue”, and the app will ask us to create a password. It is very important not to forget the password, because we can lose all the messages stored in the cloud if we don’t remember; If we don’t enter the password, we won’t be able to restore the backup, and WhatsApp won’t be able to help us there.

The password is the only thing that can open the module in which the encryption key for the messages is stored. The key is stored by Facebook, but no one can see it without the password.

After a beta period, this functionality is available from today to all WhatsApp users.

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