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WhatsApp adds end-to-end encryption to its iCloud backup

WhatsApp confirmed it has last enhanced the iCloud security sometime in late 2016.

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A year ago, WhatsApp  enabled end-to-end encryption for its billion users to secure all the communications made between users – from group chat, voice calls, personal chats or the photos and videos that are being shared. Now, WhatsApp has taken a step further and has quietly added new security features to the iCloud backup. The company has now added end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups. Which means that when a user backs up his/her chats to iCloud, the backup files are sent encrypted.

The move came after a loophole in the end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp by a third party company which supplies mobile and cloud hacking tools. The company, Oxygen Forensics, told  Forbes in an interview that they had found a way round to break the WhatsApp end-to-end encryption. According to reports, iCloud backup encryption has been in the scene for months now, but it only came into the spotlight recently. Oxygen Forensics, can only circumvent the encryption in a specific scenario: when it has access to the SIM card with the same cell number that WhatsApp uses for verification to generate the encryption key. What that means is that anyone with access to a SIM card could potentially use it to gain access to encrypted messages stored in the iCloud.

However, the company Oxygen Forensics said that it can go about the encryption in a specific scenario only. The company said that it would require access to SIM card with the same cell number that WhatsApp uses for verification to generate an encryption key. Its report also suggests that this method could be used by police in cases where the WhatsApp account has been deleted, but iCloud backups haven’t been recovered. ALSO READ: WhatsApp Privacy policy: Is the debate real or just a loch ness monster?

This isn’t the first time we’ve come across reports that suggest a gap in WhatsApp’s encryption policy. Last year, John McAfee also claimed to have hacked WhatsApp’s encrypted messages. Having said all this, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is also taking steps to make the platform safe and secure. Recent reports claim that WhatsApp is looking into a deeper integration between the messaging app and Facebook. Believed to launch soon, WhatsApp will add a lock icon to your encrypted conversations. The icon is likely to increase awareness among its users about security.

But for the meantime, WhatsApp’s iCloud backup is now a lot safer than before.

  • Published Date: May 9, 2017 1:43 PM IST