This was done without much fanfare
WhatsApp has increased the security of an iCloud backup.
The Facebook-owned service beefed up the security of the iCloud backups towards the end of 2016. This means messages and contacts uploaded to Apple servers are protected by an encryption key. This is an extra layer of security, on top of the iCloud Drive.
This means should someone gain access to an iCloud Drive, they would still not be able to read WhatsApp messages that are backed up.
While this is good news for consumers, WhatsApp opted to do this on the down low. It only came to light after a third party company that supplies mobile and cloud hacking tools claimed to be able to get around the security measure.
A WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed iCloud backups are now being encrypted, telling Forbes: “When a user backs up their chats through WhatsApp to iCloud, the backup files are sent encrypted.”
WhatsApp first introduced end-to-end encryption one year ago.
Messages sent via WhatsApp will not be stored in plaintext on servers. The company is unable to decrypt messages as it doesn't hold the encryption keys. This means the company would be unable to hand over user data.
All users must be using the latest version of WhatsApp to ensure the messages are fully encrypted. Those with the new version may notice a message appearing in their chats, informing them of the new changes.
The founders of WhatsApp wrote a blog to explain the importance of this update.
"The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation."