We have known for some time that WhatsApp is working to bring a new secure backup option to the chat service. Just like chats themselves, backups will soon be protected with end-to-end encryption, greatly reducing the risk of backed up messages and media being seen by unwanted third parties.
Hints at just how end-to-end encrypted backups will be implemented in WhatsApp have been visible in numerous beta versions, and the latest preview build of the app provides even more information.
Hints from WhatsApp Beta for Android
It is the latest beta release of the Android version of WhatsApp that gives us a glimpse into the future. From this most recent build, we can see that WhatsApp will be giving users the ability to view the encryption key that has been used to protect their backups, making it possible to make a note of it.
When saving backups to Google Drive, WhatsApp will use a hexadecimal key for encryption. This is a fairly standard way of formatting encryption keys, and in the case of WhatsApp – as we can see from screenshots shared by WABetaInfo – keys will be 64 characters long. The image also show that WhatsApp will remind users that keys are made up of digits and lowercase letters between a and f; this reminder serves to help people avoid typing the letter O in place of the digit 0.
The Android app gives us an insight into what is being worked on at the moment this time around. Based on past experience, however, it is fairly safe to assume that anything we see introduced in the Android app will also make its way to the iOS version of the app – although not necessarily at the same time.
If you’re interested in taking part in the beta program, you can sign up here.