WhatsApp has offered end-to-end encryption for messages for a few years now. This means that messages sent on the platform are entirely encrypted and cannot be read by anyone in transit. However, WhatsApp backups to iCloud and Google Drive are not encrypted, making them potentially unsafe and insecure.
That is now changing as Facebook has announced that it is rolling out end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp backups stored on iCloud and Google Drive.
Why Encrypted Backups Are Important
This is an important move from a security viewpoint, especially since content stored on Google Drive and iCloud is not encrypted. End-to-end encryption for backups will be available for WhatsApp users on both iPhone and Android. You can either use a 64-bit encryption key or a password to encrypt the backups.
The feature is not enabled by default, so you must manually enable end-to-end encryption for your WhatsApp cloud backups. Nonetheless, doing so will provide you with additional peace of mind since no one will be able to access your WhatsApp backups without the encryption key or password.
Just be sure to remember your password or encryption key, as you will not be able to access your WhatsApp backups without them.
How to Turn On End-to-End Encryption for WhatsApp Backups
- Open the Settings menu of WhatsApp on your Android or iPhone.
- Navigate to Chats > Chat Backup > End-to-end Encrypted Backup.
- Tap on Turn On and then proceed to create a password or encryption key for your cloud backup.
- Lastly, tap Create and wait for WhatsApp to create a backup, encrypt it, and upload it to Google Drive or iCloud.
iPhone owners should note that an unencrypted version of their chat history is backed up to iCloud if they have iCloud Backup enabled. To ensure this does not happen, you must disable iCloud Backup and only allow WhatsApp to upload backups to iCloud Drive directly.
How to Turn Off Encrypted WhatsApp Chat Backups
You can turn off end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp from the same settings page, though doing so will require you to enter the password or encryption key.
Enabling or disabling end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp backups will not impact the encryption of messages you send or receive, as they will always remain encrypted.