Instant messaging app Viber, with more than 711 million unique users worldwide is following Telegram and WhatsApp by launching end-to-end encryption as well as hidden chats to strengthen security in every voice or video call, message, video and photo, in both group messages and one-to-one communication.
The ‘Hidden Chats’ allow users to hide specific chats from the main screen so no-one but the user knows they exist. These chats can only be accessed using a four digit PIN, providing an optional additional layer of privacy to users’ personal communications.
“We take our users’ security and privacy very seriously, and it’s critical to us that they feel confident and protected when using Viber,” said Michael Shmilov, COO of Viber.
Users will see a color-coded lock on the right hand side of the screen indicating the level of security:
- Grey Lock: During an end-to-end encrypted conversation and call users will see a grey padlock icon. Tapping on this icon will display a tooltip letting users know that messages sent by the participants are encrypted.
- Green Lock: Users also have the option of manually authenticating their contacts by selecting that they are ‘trusted’. This means that the selected contact’s authentication key will be monitored for future changes so users can be certain that they’re talking to the right person at all times. Tapping on the green padlock will display a tooltip letting users know that messages sent by the participants are encrypted and your contact is verified.
- Red Lock: If there is a problem with the authentication key of a previously trusted user, the padlock will turn red. The breach may simply mean that a user has changed their 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. Tapping on the red icon will display a tooltip noting that Viber cannot verify this number.
Users will now also be able to hide specific one-on-one or group conversations from the ‘chats’ screen so that no-one knows they exist and access them using a four digit PIN. Users can hide the conversation by tapping on the info screen for a particular chat. It will then ask for a four digit PIN or, for iOS users, provide an option for a fingerprint. Users will be notified of a message in a Hidden conversation without the text of the message, or who it is from, appearing on the screen.
This is not bi-directional, meaning if one user hides the conversation, nothing will be changed on the recipient’s side.
This latest update, along with the ‘Delete’ feature – which allows users to delete messages on the recipient’s phone even after they’ve sent them whether the person has seen it or not – demonstrates Viber’s increased focus on putting its users in control of their privacy and personal communications.