Your WhatsApp chats are now a little less secure

WhatsApp is moving all of its backup data to the cloud where it will be easier to break into

WhatsApp and Google have announced that WhatsApp users will be able to back up all of their WhatsApp data on Google Drive without using up any of their Google Drive allowance. In itself, this is good news, but it also involves a rather unfortunate implication. All WhatsApp data backed up using Google Drive will no longer be protected by end-to-end encryption.

Starting November 12, the deal will come into place. You’ll have to back up your WhatsApp data before then to protect your old WhatsApp messages, photos, videos, and sound files from being deleted. Everything you do save, however, will no longer be protected by WhatsApp’s lauded encryption. In the official blog post from WhatsApp, announcing the change, the following caveat was included:

“Important: Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive.”

End-to-end encryption scrambles up all communications between devices. It basically means that only the sender and the person or people who they are sending a message to can read it. Once the sent data is backed up to Google Drive, however, this level of protection no longer exists.

Google does claim that all data involved in the transfer from WhatsApp to Google Drive servers is encrypted. There is a catch, however, and in the Google terms and conditions it clearly states Google’s automated systems will scan content in order to provide personally relevant product features and more highly tuned personal search results. Your WhatsApp backups could become the fuel for the ads that Google will be serving you up.

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If you’re more worried about hackers getting their hands on your data than ad agencies, then you might have something to worry about. Google uses 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption for data that is being transferred and 128-AES keys when the data is stored. Google Drive’s encryption isn’t as secure as WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.

The takeaway from all of this is that although you can now save all your WhatsApp data without having to pay for storage, you are paying a price. Your data is now in the hands of a corporation that knows how to use it. Also, if you are going to rely on Google Drive to backup all of your WhatsApp data you need to be aware that everything you save there isn’t as secure as it was when it was encrypted by WhatsApp.

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