WhatsApp has been one of the less feature-packed messaging apps available on iOS and Android, but we’ve seen more and more functionality added to the app ever since it was acquired by Facebook a couple of years back. Recently, WhatsApp made chat and media transfer possible between Samsung phones and iPhones, and it’s also bringing the option to hide your “last seen” status from individual contacts soon.
And for enhanced security, WhatsApp will soon introduce another great feature: end-to-end encryption for the backups you save on Google Drive. Right now, all messages sent between WhatsApp users are end-to-end encrypted, making it impossible for anyone — including WhatsApp — to read them, but backups made to Google Drive aren’t and can be accessed by Google and its employees. To change that, Facebook announced today that it would add the option to create end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) backups.
Each backup you make to your Google Drive account will be encrypted with a randomly generated encryption key that can be saved locally by the user or secured with a password. Choosing the latter option will store the encryption key in what WhatsApp calls a Backup Key Vault, and the user can then access the key from the vault when needed by providing the password. To make things ultra-secure, WhatsApp says that the encryption/decryption key will be deleted if the wrong password is entered too many times.
End-to-end encryption for WhatsApp backups will roll out to Samsung devices (and other Android devices) in the coming weeks. Oh, and in case you missed it, while the app will get more secure for most users, some will soon lose access to WhatsApp entirely as the company is dropping support for some Samsung phones by the end of the year – here are more details on that.