WhatsApp beefs up end-to-end encryption to increase data security

Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups too as part of latest move

FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company is expanding end-to-end encryption on its WhatsApp messaging service.

Texts sent on WhatsApp are already protected so they can only be seen by the sender and recipient. People have been able to back up their messages in the cloud, using Alphabet’s Google Drive and Apple’s icloud. But, while WhatsApp doesn’t have access to those backups, Apple and Google potentially do.

Now, Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups as well, meaning neither WhatsApp nor the cloud-service providers will be able to access them.

“We’re adding another layer of privacy and security,” Mr Zuckerberg said in a blog post on Friday. “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.”

The move arrives as Facebook faces scrutiny over its privacy polices for the messaging service. Earlier this week, ProPublica published a report highlighting how contract workers sift through millions of private messages that have been flagged by users as potentially abusive.

The non-profit investigative organisation subsequently made clear that WhatsApp doesn’t break the end to end encryption.

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Updated: September 11th 2021, 8:52 AM
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