WhatsApp Still Working on Password-Protected Encrypted iCloud Backups

WhatsApp is working on a way to secure users' chat backups in iCloud using password-protected encryption, according to a new report from forthcoming-feature specialist WABetaInfo.

Whatsapp Feature
The Facebook-owned chat platform began early work on the security feature back in March 2020. Currently, WhatsApp on iPhone lets users back up their chat history to ‌iCloud‌, but messages and media that users back up are not protected by WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption while in ‌‌iCloud‌.

Apple holds the encryption keys to ‌iCloud‌, and does provide backed-up data to authorities when lawfully requested, as outlined in its semiannual Transparency Reports. The new WhatsApp feature, should it see the light of day, would resolve that security hole by allowing users to encrypt and password-protect their chat history before uploading it to Apple's cloud-based platform.

In screenshots posted by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp describes the password-protection like so:

"To prevent unauthorized access to your iCloud Drive backup, you can set a password that will be used to encrypt future backups. This password will be required when you restore from the backup."

The user is then asked to confirm their phone number and select a password of at least eight characters in length. Another screenshot forewarns users that "WhatsApp will not be able to help recover forgotten passwords."


It's unclear when the security feature will go live, but after the recent exodus from WhatsApp prompted by the service's poorly explained privacy policy update, sooner would be better than later.

Rival encrypted messaging services Telegram and Signal have both experienced a surge in signups following the controversy, which led WhatsApp to delay the privacy policy update until May while it attempts to deal with the fallout and clarify to users that the changes won't affect the privacy of their conversations.

Top Rated Comments

peneaux Avatar
14 weeks ago
I guess it's too late now. Move to Signal.

Remember WhatsApp is owned by FACEBOOK!
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cybbe Avatar
14 weeks ago
Good. And it would be great if this puts pressure on Apple do develop a similar feature for iMessage chats. It has been reported that Apple has consciously chosen to not (end-to-end) encrypt chats backed up to iCloud to allow the government to access people's private conversations, a serious hole in Apple's public commitment to privacy.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bebarhood Avatar
14 weeks ago
I wish we could have a cross-platform backup and restore.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pair Avatar
14 weeks ago
I think the solution Apple have chosen to use is probably quite a good measure as it satisfies both sides. In that if people wish to keep the conversation totally private they can opt not to back up their messages to iCloud, and equally if the government wish to access these messages through necessary legal processes then they can do so, if the backups exist. This prevents a situation whereby if they are totally encrypted, Governments may end up taking further action to prevent encryption or insist on a back door which would totally undermine the purpose of encryption.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Deguello Avatar
14 weeks ago

It’s better than legislated backdoors which would render there to be effectively no encryption. this way there is a choice given.
It’s specifically icloud backups. You can still backup locally with the encryption and then if you wish back up to the cloud.
Still a false dichotomy.

Backing up locally with encryption then backing that up to the cloud is backing up to the cloud with encryption, just with an extra step. All your proposal does is expose the less tech-savvy to exposure. And, by your logic, if everyone did that then we’d be right back at legislated back doors.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jasonefmonk Avatar
14 weeks ago
It would be nice to know which third-party chat apps encrypt your chats even in backup scenarios.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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