With privacy increasingly becoming the buzzword in the tech circles, the latest to up the stakes on this front is Viber, announcing End-to-End Encryption coverage for all of its calls and messages, including group conversations.
What this means is that all messages on the Viber platform will be encrypted and will appear meaningful to only the intended recipients. It applies to even Viber employees who won’t have any clue of the data being exchanged. This, in turn, excludes an Apple vs. FBI like a scenario where Viber simply won’t be in the position to service any requests for user’s data even for the sake of any investigation and such.
In fact, the Rakuten-owned messaging company is taking security to the next higher level with the introduction of what it terms as Hidden Chats. With the messages itself being encrypted on Viber’s platform, those still remain on the user’s devices. And it is these that Viber is targeting with its Hidden Chats feature that allows the user to secure those messages with a 4-digit PIN.
Viber also stated they are adopting a slightly more transparent security scheme as part of its E2EE measure. As per that, a gray lock icon signifies the conversations are being protected as per standard E2EE measures. That apart, there is a green lock as well that the users can select to authenticate their identity to other users using a unique cryptographic key associated with their devices.
Further with the green key, users can be rest assured as long as it remains green which means ‘complete security.’ However, the same turning red is a sign of authentication measures failing, which happens if the user at the other end has changed device in the meantime. Under the circumstances, users will need to re-authenticate again though if the lock continues to beam red, that could be the sign of Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks with someone attempting unauthorized access to the data.
As for its competitors, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the other major messaging company that too announced End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) for all of its messages recently. Interestingly, Facebook’s other messaging platform, Messenger continues to be outside the purview of E2EE, as does a few other messaging services such as Google Hangouts, Kik, and Snapchat. That said, it could be just a matter of time before those too join the E2EE bandwagon.
Viber meanwhile also added the new security feature will be rolled out gradually to all users worldwide within the next few weeks.