WhatsApp to Let Users Encrypt Chat Backups Uploaded to iCloud

WhatsApp has announced it will give its two billion users the option to upload their chat backups to Apple's iCloud using password-protected encryption.

Whatsapp E2EE Backups
Currently, WhatsApp on iPhone lets users back up their chat history to ‌‌iCloud‌‌, but messages and media that users back up aren't protected by WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption while in ‌‌Apple's cloud servers‌.

Given that Apple holds the encryption keys for ‌iCloud‌, a subpoena of Apple or an unauthorized ‌iCloud‌ hack could potentially allow access to WhatsApp messages backed up there. Apple was reportedly pressured to not add encryption to ‌iCloud‌ Backups after the FBI complained.

The upcoming WhatsApp feature will resolve that security vulnerability by allowing users to encrypt and password-protect their chat history before uploading it to Apple's cloud-based platform. WhatsApp began early work on the security feature back in March 2020.

The rollout will make backups secure in remote ‌iCloud‌ servers by making them unreadable without an encryption key. Encrypted backups will be optional, and users will be asked to save a 64-bit encryption key or create a password that is associated with the key.

According to a whitepaper published by the Facebook-owned platform, when a WhatsApp user creates a password linked to their account's encryption key, WhatsApp stores the key in a physical hardware security module (HSM) that acts like a safety deposit box and can only be unlocked using the correct password. WhatsApp only knows that a key exists in a HSM, not the key itself or the associated password to unlock it.

When the password is used to unlock the HSM, the encryption key is released which then decrypts the account's backup on Apple's servers. If the wrong password is entered repeatedly, however, the data in the HSM becomes permanently inaccessible. WhatsApp will only know that a key exists in a HSM, not the key itself or the associated password to unlock it.

"WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage across operating systems," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post announcing the feature.

The encrypted chat backups feature will be rolled out in the coming weeks on Android (for WhatsApp users backing up to Google Drive) and iOS, and will be available in every market where WhatsApp is operational, which could put the company at odds with some governments.

Comparatively, Apple is not making its upcoming ‌iCloud‌+ Private Relay encrypted browsing feature available to users living under certain authoritarian regimes, including China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines. According to Apple, "regulatory reasons" are preventing the Private Relay feature from launching in those countries.

Top Rated Comments

Ifti Avatar
12 months ago
WhatsApp is what iMessage should have been.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
InGen Avatar
12 months ago
It’s your turn, iMessage/iCloud…
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rikscha Avatar
12 months ago
Yeah fully encrypted when FB already announced they will place ads inside whatsapp based on what you write

you are a fool for using the service
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ecatomb Avatar
12 months ago
Just too bad that WhatsApp owner is Facebook ?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
h3ysw5nkan Avatar
12 months ago

Signal is the answer
Yeah, good luck finding normal people willing to go that far. I have zero active contacts in Signal.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sdz Avatar
12 months ago

https://gizmodo.com/whatsapp-moderators-can-read-your-messages-1847629241
So true ?

Without joking, I can only agree... If iMessage was available on Android long time ago, iMessage could be at the same place than WhatsApp : encryption, used by nearly everyone...

Maybe Signal will replace WhatsApp ?
Big deal. Messages are forwarded after you’ve been warned. They cannot control it from the outside. It stays e2e encrypted. Actually a very good design. Much better than the rotten Apple solution (we will store your key in the Backup file just because hehehehe )
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Novi WhatsApp

WhatsApp Launches Instant Cryptocurrency Payments in the US

Thursday December 9, 2021 4:02 am PST by
WhatsApp has launched a cryptocurrency payment feature for a small number of users in the United States, thanks to Novi integration, a digital wallet owned by Facebook (now Meta). The pilot program lets users of the encrypted messaging app send and receive money "instantly, securely, and with no fees" using the Paxos Dollar (USPD) stablecoin, whose value is linked to the US dollar. The...
s960 2MS Home Office sign 960x640

UK Government Readies Anti-Encryption Publicity Campaign to 'Keep Children Safe' Online

Monday January 17, 2022 4:26 am PST by
The British Government is reportedly preparing a publicity attack on end-to-end encryption in an effort to mobilize public opinion against the technology by framing it as a child safety issue, with its main aim being to derail Facebook's plan to end-to-end encrypt its Messenger platform. According to Rolling Stone, the Home Office has hired the M&C Saatchi advertising agency to plan the...
Whatsapp Feature

Facebook Reportedly Researching Ways to Use Encrypted WhatsApp Messages for Targeted Advertisements

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:24 am PDT by
Facebook is researching ways to analyze encrypted data, such as WhatsApp messages, without actually decrypting the information, according to a new report from The Information. The report cites that Facebook has confirmed it is building a team of artificial intelligence researchers to "study ways of analyzing encrypted data without decrypting it." While it is still early in development, the...
WhatsApp Global Voice Note player WABetaInfo

WhatsApp Tests Ability to Play Voice Messages Outside of Chat Threads

Wednesday January 12, 2022 2:13 am PST by
WhatsApp has rolled out a new feature to users of its beta app that adds the ability to continue listening to a voice message after you've exited the chat thread it was received in. WhatsApp has been working on a global voice note player for some time to let users listen to voice messages in the background while navigating around the app. Currently, if you play a voice note and then exit ...
password hide security recommendation ios 15 4

iOS 15.4 Beta Adds Option to Hide iCloud Keychain Security Recommendations

Tuesday February 1, 2022 9:59 am PST by
For iCloud Keychain passwords, Apple has long offered security recommendations for weak, compromised, or repeated passwords that need updating for maximum protection, but in some situations, you might have passwords that you can't change and annoying alerts you can't get rid of. That's changing in iOS 15.4, which is currently in beta testing. In the iOS 15.4 update, any security...
half off 1pass 2

Deals Exclusive: Get Your First Year of the 1Password Individual Plan for 50% Off

Wednesday February 16, 2022 10:36 am PST by
We've partnered with 1Password again this month, this time offering our readers a chance to get 50 percent off their first year of 1Password for Individuals. This offer is available to new customers only, and it doesn't require a coupon code. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with 1Password. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
whatsapp notification

WhatsApp Starts Rolling Out Profile Pictures in iOS Message Notifications

Thursday January 6, 2022 1:53 am PST by
WhatsApp is testing a helpful new feature on iOS that displays profile pictures in system notifications when users receive new messages from chats and groups. Image credit: WABetaInfo First spotted by app specialist WABetaInfo, the first new feature for the platform in 2022 uses APIs in iOS 15 to add the WhatsApp profile images to notifications in top-screen banners and in the Notification...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp Working on App for iPadOS and macOS Using Mac Catalyst

Tuesday November 16, 2021 5:37 am PST by
WhatsApp is working on an app for iPadOS, and thanks to Mac Catalyst, an app for macOS too, according to WABetaInfo. WhatsApp's rumored app for iPad will be a Catalyst app, enabling it to run seamlessly on macOS. This effectively allows the same app to share code while running on separate platforms. The new WhatsApp app for macOS apparently looks very similar to the app for iPadOS,...

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
odyssey ark 1

Samsung Launches $3,500 'Odyssey Ark' 55-Inch Curved Gaming Display

Monday August 15, 2022 7:15 am PDT by
Samsung today announced the launch of the Odyssey Ark, which the company says is the world's first 55-inch 4K curved display with a 165Hz refresh rate for improved gaming performance. Samsung first previewed the monitor at CES, but it is now available to order. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $3,500, the Samsung Odyssey Ark features mini-LED technology...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...