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Beware: Those free WhatsApp backups on Google Drive aren’t encrypted

Published Aug 27th, 2018 8:00PM EDT
WhatsApp Encryption
Image: Shutterstock

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A few days ago, we learned that Facebook and Google partnered to offer users free Google Drive backups for WhatsApp chats. That’s a great offer if you have a ton of content saved in your conversations and want to make sure it stays protected. Google Drive backups were available before to WhatsApp users, but the data you used counted against your Drive allowance.

Before you get too excited about the deal, you should know that Drive backups won’t be protected by the same encryption that guards all your WhatsApp chats.

Like many chat apps, WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption for messages and calls, but those protections won’t be extended to any backups made to Google Drive.

According to The Economic Times, WhatsApp updated a help page to mention it explicitly:

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

WhatsApp explained to customers that Drive backups aren’t encrypted in the past before the Facebook-Google partnership was announced. But if there ever was a good time to remind users that backups aren’t encrypted, it’s right now, given the context.

It’s likely that many people will take advantage of the free Drive backup offer, and that’s a great offer as long as you don’t mind having your data stored unencrypted. Well, it’s not like it’s unprotected, as it’s on Google’s servers. But Google would have the ability to access that data.

If you value privacy and security the most, you should consider other backup means, like saving WhatsApp content locally, on your encrypted hard drives.

The free Google Drive backup offer will be available to WhatsApp users on November 12th.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.