Data Backed Up from WhatsApp to Google Drive Will Be ‘plaintext’

End-to-end encryption targeted by Facebook?

According to a recent announcement by Google, Android and iOS users will now be able to backup their Whatsapp data on Google Drive without worrying about storage space. This feature would help save storage space on your Google Drive and will secure your data.

But secure will it be? Because Google confirmed earlier that your Whatsapp data won’t be encrypted on Google Drive. Yes, the data will be stored without any form of encryption that Whatsapp users have grown accustomed to.

From November 12 onward, Whatsapp data stored on Google Drive won’t be counted toward your allocated storage quote, Google confirmed. Google isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its heart, in fact, Facebook and Google have come to an agreement regarding Whatsapp data storage on Google Drive.

Starting November 12, 2018, WhatsApp backups will no longer count towards the Google Drive storage quota. Furthermore, WhatsApp backups that haven’t been updated in more than one year will be automatically removed from Google Drive storage. To avoid the loss of any backups, we recommend you manually back up your WhatsApp data before November 12, 2018.

You can back up your chats and media to Google Drive, so if you change Android phones or get a new one, your chats and media are transferable. We recommend connecting your phone to Wi-Fi prior to backing up your chats via Google Drive, as backup files can vary in size and consume mobile data, causing additional charges.

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

Users won’t have the same luxury of end-to-end encryption with the backup feature as they do with messaging on Whatsapp.

Why Should You Care?

Most people used to worry less about their online security due to lack awareness but over the past few years, we are seeing users demand more security. Whatsapp’s end-to-end encryption is a highly popular feature, one that contributed to its rising success.

Communications services offer this type of encryption to provide full control to the user. The user owns the private key used to encrypt the communications and it is stored locally to provide a secure space.

Meanwhile, data stored on the cloud isn’t encrypted which makes it easier to transfer and decrypt data.  Facebook wishes to implement more business-friendly tools and end-to-end encryption is a hurdle as it doesn’t allow the easy transfer of data without the user’s permission.

Facebook, the owner of Whatsapp, is already under fire for leaking user information. The internal discussion is reportedly going on to cripple this encryption style to better accommodate business tools. However, how will that affect user experience and what risks come with it are clear.

End-to-end doesn’t allow Facebook to peak into user’s private messages and hand that data over to its partners.

Sikandar Mahmood
An avid fan of stealth-shooter genre. He prefers tactical-based shooters over mainstream titles and regards PS4 and PC as his choice of gaming platforms.