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Viber joins end-to-end encryption club, features hidden chats

tech Updated: Apr 21, 2016 17:53 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Viber

The end-to-end encryption will include all apps and services of Viber like texts, voice and group chats(Viiber)

All instant messaging platforms seem to have one goal in mind and that is to join the end-to-end encryption club after Facebook-owned rival WhatsApp did it with some flourish.

This time its Viber, which is a Cypriot-Israeli operation owned by Japanese giant Rakuten. The app has nearly 250 million monthly active users and 711 million users in total compared to WhatsApp billion plus user base.

The end-to-end encryption will include all apps and services of Viber like texts, voice and group chats.“Our users will be able to securely communicate across all of their devices through end-to-end encryption,” chief operating officer (COO) Michael Shmilov wrote in a blog post. “We have been working on this for a long time and are proud that our users can confidently use Viber without fear of their messages being intercepted - whether it is in a one-to-one or group message, on a call, on desktop, mobile or tablet,” he added.

Read more: Here’s how you can check if your WhatsApp is encrypted and working

End-to-end encryption technology ensures that only the sender and the recipient sees the message which might contain text, pictures, video or voice.Essentially it cloaks the message with a lock, and only the recipient and the sender have the special key needed to unlock and read them. For added protection, every message has its own unique lock and key.

As a user, all you need to do is make sure you have the latest version of Viber and you will be notified when your conversations are encrypted similar to how you updated WhatsApp (Viber)

As a user, all you need to do is make sure you have the latest version of Viber and you will be notified when your conversations are encrypted similar to how you updated WhatsApp for taking advantage of the encrypted services. “We are rolling this out globally over the next two weeks, and you’ll see a grey padlock to confirm you are secured. Additionally, we’ve ensured each user has an individual cryptography key associated with his or her device, allowing you to benefit from an added layer of security,” Shmilov wrote.

“You can manually authenticate contacts to select they are “trusted”. This will change the lock color to green, and if you ever see a red lock it means there is a problem with the authentication key. The breach may simply mean that a user has changed his or her primary phone; however, it can also indicate a man-in-the-middle-attack. To solve a possible breach state, the participant needs to be re-trusted,” he explained.

Read more: WhatsApp just made the privacy-security war bloodier

The company has also launched another feature called hidden chats for a shared device case scenario. “A lot of our users share tablets with their families, have personal chats while at work or plan surprises for loved ones and want to protect conversations from wandering eyes. For this reason, we’re proud to launch Hidden Chats today. This allows our users to hide specific chats from the main screen so no-one but the user knows they exist,” the company said.

However, the company has not released any whitepaper yet to explain the technology behind the encryption and has held no external audits.