Viber Is Latest To Go For Total Encryption
Earlier this month, popular chat messaging mobile App WhatsApp has announced that it was encrypting every message sent by its more than a billion users. Well now, another major messaging platform is following in WhatsApp’s footsteps in going for total encryption. Viber has now joined the club, rolling out end to end encryption for all messages and calls on its service, including group chat messages (which allows users to create group chats consisting of up to 200 participants. For good measure, Viber is also deploying a hide chat functionality alongside its already existing expanded deleting feature.
Founded in Israel half a decade ago, Viber was later acquired by Japan based ecommerce giant Rakuten in 2014, and has since grown its considerable customer base to over 711 million users. The company is now looking to roll out its encryption feature worldwide in the next few weeks. However, the deployment will likely start in four countries where Viber focuses most of its research and development efforts, namely Israel, Brazil, Belarus, and Thailand.
The new encrypted version of the Viber app will work across environments, including Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Mac, and even PCs. The encryption functionality should arrive with the newest app update, with users needing to go through a re-authentication of the app (by way of QR code) in order to activate total encryption.
As of this writing, several popular chat messaging apps have already moved to encrypt users’ messages in transit. End to end encryption, however, is considered a more secure method of encryption because the service providers themselves do not have access to the chat messages being ferried across channels.
Viber has actually been working on deploying end to end encryption for several years now, but the timing of its global roll out could not be more appropriate, especially now that Apple’s highly publicized feud with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has pushed the subject of mobile encryption to some of today’s headlines.
According to Viber, its encryption will feature several levels of security, signified by color coded locks on the right side section of the user’s screen. A gray lock means that the conversation (text and calls) is fully encrypted. A green lock means that a user has the option of additionally authenticating other users before initiating a conversation. As for the red lock, this is displayed when a supposedly trusted user does not pass the re-authentication process at his or her end.