The flurry of people joining Telegram after Pegasus spyware exploited a vulnerability on Whatsapp might not be an isolated phenomenon after all. Now, messaging platform Rakuten Viber, which is also end-to-end encrypted, is claiming a 30-35 per cent jump in installations after news broke of how NSO used Whatsapp to target over 1400 people across the world.
“We did see close to a 30 to 35 per cent increase in activations, which means people registering on our platform. I would expect that this was largely be driven by this (Pegasus),” Anubhav Nayyar, Sr. Director, BD for APAC region told indianexpress.com. Nayyar said what was interesting was the fact that user privacy getting compromised could actually lead to some users looking for options, especially in India.
One of the original instant messaging apps, Viber was founded in Israel in 2010 by as a counter to Skype. In 2014, Viber Media was acquired by Japanese multinational Rakuten. Now, Rakuten Viber claims over a billion users across the globe out of which about 50 million are in India.
“An important differentiating feature to the number of other apps out there is that these are not encrypted by default,” says Nayyar. He said Whatsapp is also peculiar because it is an encrypted platform that is in someway yoked to two unencrypted platforms like Facebook and Facebook Messenger.
Nayyar was of the opinion that the latest developments suggest “there is room for multiple apps”. “I’m not sure if people will stop using the messaging platform (WhatsApp), but what we have seen is that people start moving some conversations or some groups to a separate app.”
Viber, he said, has not come in for scrutiny from law enforcement agencies. “Typically you start seeing these kinds of challenges when there is some sort of hate speech and or unlawful activities happening on the platform. We haven’t seen that predominantly because you can’t really broadcast on Viber,” he said, adding how most of the conversation is one-to-one.
However, Viber does have an AI-based system that flags of unusual behaviour like a new activation sending out a number of messages all of a sudden. “We do have a support system including a team that sort of helps flag this.”
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