WhatsApp backups on Google Drive are not encrypted, open to hackers

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WhatsApp had recently announced that starting Nov 12, all chat and media backups to the Google Drive will not be counted towards the users’ Cloud storage quota.

This was made possible after Facebook and Google inked a deal to allow all WhatsApp storage in Google’s cloud to remain “free” and not eat into users’ available storage capacity.

So users can back up all the WhatsApp data they want and not worry about upgrading their Cloud plans to support the volume.

What most people may not realise is that backing up their WhatsApp messages in Google Drive could possibly mean letting hackers read the messages and images contained inside.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption means that messages you send are “jumbled up” en route to the intended recipients, and only the recipient’s device has the code to unscramble the message. So, anyone trying to intercept the message while it is being sent will not be able to read the content.

But when WhatsApp sends the messages for backup to the Google servers, it is sent and stored in a readable format. This means that Google, and  anyone with malicious intentions, could possibly infiltrate and view the content.

However, this problem does not exist for Apple users as Forbes reported that WhatsApp had added encryption to iCloud backups in late 2016. It is unclear why this security feature has not been extended for Android users as well.

Users can go to Chat Backup settings to choose how they want to back up the data – manually or automatically – and how frequently it is to be done; whether daily, weekly, monthly, or never at all. If the user decides to not have the backups on the Cloud anymore, they can delete them by going to Google Drive, selecting the option “manage app” and delete WhatsApp from the list.