The major messaging services are now placing a greater emphasis on their users' privacy and security, following the heated encryption debate started by Apple and the FBI. Viber has just announced end-to-end encryption support, making it the second leading player this month to introduce this feature after WhatsApp.
Viber has over 700 million users across the globe, but its end to end encryption feature will not be available everywhere right away. The company is focusing on Belarus, Brazil, Israel and Thailand first, with other markets to get the same treatment in the weeks that follow.
Viber is also rolling out an option to hide chats on users' accounts which, like end to end encryption support, will work on all the major platforms supported by the company: Android, iOS, Windows and OS X. The option to hide chats comes with support for four-digit PINs.
Speaking with TechCrunch, Viber COO Michael Shmilov says that his company has been working on enabling end-to-end encryption for a few years. Hopefully this means that the feature will be even better than what WhatsApp has introduced.
Viber's end-to-end encryption extends to both messages and calls, and includes group chats. There will be different levels of encryption, and users will be notified of it via a colour-coded lock, to accommodate different types of conversations.
Viber claims that it will be able to tell when users could be compromised while chatting, at which point the app will show a red-colored lock to inform other users involved in that conversation.
No matter how you feel about encryption, it is good to know that the big players have their users' privacy and security in mind. Such measures, however, are only effective if messaging services do not cave under pressure and give governments, for instance, a special key, like BlackBerry has done for the Canadian police.