WhatsApp Is Testing Encrypted Cloud Backups on Android

By Bill Toulas / July 17, 2021

The latest beta version of the WhatsApp app for Android, v2.21.15.5, has arrived with a surprise, as it appears that the popular IM platform is testing an encrypted cloud backups feature. This was first noticed by webetainfo, which is diving into test versions of apps to figure out what is in the works, so the chances of seeing the feature being rolled out in the stable branch are pretty high at this point.

Having the ability to encrypt backups stored in the cloud definitely sounds like a great idea, as this means that your data wouldn't be readable in the case of a security breach. All you have to do is set up a password, and a 64-digit recovery key will be generated from it. From then on, only you will be able to access and restore the backups, so if you lose that key or forget the password, you will be locked out. WhatsApp doesn’t appear to have a secondary recovery method in place, so keep that in mind when enabling the feature.

Source: webetainfo

WhatsApp is feeling the pressure from various governments like in India, for example, and offering such a feature is only helping in making users feel some peace of mind. Even if the law enforcement authorities break into one of the company’s offices and seize user backups from its local servers, they won’t cause these people any harm. That’s a market advantage that could make a huge difference depending on where you live.

If you are really serious about your privacy and security, using a decentralized E2EE instant messaging app instead of WhatsApp would be a good idea. And finally, you should consider the benefits versus the risk of having your chat histories (with media) backed up on Google Drive or any other cloud service. The chances of unauthorized access are slim and those of decryption are even slimmer - but before you dive in, consider whether or not it is worth the hassle.

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