Just how safe is your personal information on the internet?

Just how safe is your personal information on the internet?

We learned all about what it takes to secure your digital footprint at this Viber summit.

The internet is known to provide a lot of cute conveniences. It’s a platform that provides both essential and useless knowledge like two seasons of Vox’s Explained and information on which celebrity you actually look like. Bet your decade-old encyclopedia can’t do that. From auto-filling forms for your latest online shopping spree to remembering your passwords better than you, the internet is essentially the Andy Sachs to your Miranda Priestly. The perfect assistant for your fast-paced life. It’s very Black Mirror if you ask me, but, like, whatever, right?

The reason why the internet is so good at predicting your next move or your next purchase is because they collect behavioral data. Websites, using our favorite snack and web browser tool cookies, observe how you navigate their websites and use that data to push more content or product that you might like. Have you noticed that Reformation dress that has been in your shopping cart for about a month is haunting you everywhere? How about that travel bag from Kickstarter you’ve been watching since its development? This is the first type of data that websites are generally legally allowed to use to develop their websites.

We headed down to Singapore to find out more about online security at the Rakuten Viber Asia Summit last Nov. 8. Hosted by Sam YG, the summit covered topics from data ethics to safeguarding your digital reputation and working with brands. I know what you’re thinking: “Viber? That messaging app that my mom forces me to use to connect with my aunties I haven’t even heard of?” Yes, that Viber. But the messaging service has so much more to offer than just reconnecting you with family members you should know in the first place — like internet privacy, for example.

At the Rakuten Viber Asia Summit last Nov. 8, we learned about things like end-to-end encryption and how to keep our digital breadcrumbs secure in today’s hyperspeed internet.

Let me set the scene for you: you create a Facebook account with all the necessary information that will allow your friends to connect with you (i.e. your name, nickname, address and number). You might be thinking, sure, it’s okay to put everything there since you set the privacy settings to “Friends Only.” You chat with your friends on Messenger and you even play games using your account. After two decades of existence, you finally come to a conclusion that you actually look like Kendall Jenner, not Kylie.

According to Viber’s CEO Djamel Agaoua, there are three kinds of data that tech companies consider. As mentioned above, the first one is behavioral data. The second type of data is exactly what you provided Facebook when you first signed up: your name, number, address and other personal data. “This is pretty well-regulated,” he says. “Nobody can use it against the will of the users.” Or so we thought.


“We have a healthy company and we offer an alternative. I’m not saying that we are going to be the winner at the end. This is not our philosophy. We are here to offer a service that makes sense, works fast, and respects its promises.”


Back in September, hundreds of millions of phone numbers had been found online due to a hack into Facebook’s systems. It was reported that 419 million user records from different countries were leaked. Who knows where that info is now? It’s quite alarming due to the fact that a) Facebook is known for shady business practices (looking at you, Cambridge Analytica); and b) Messenger is still the top messaging platform in the Philippines. Who knows what else they’re getting from us?

This is where Viber comes in. The app lives up to its promise to provide a secure platform for its users after the privacy summit. Unlike Facebook, Viber’s main goal isn’t to generate as much profit as possible; I mean, sure, they’re still a business, but they don’t sacrifice their values to get that extra moolah. They don’t expose your data to make money, in other words. “We have a healthy company and we offer an alternative. I’m not saying that we are going to be the winner at the end. This is not our philosophy,” Djamel reiterates. “We are here to offer a service that makes sense, works fast, and respects its promises.”

Viber uses this techy thing called end-to-end encryption. To put it simply, it turns your messages into an abstract painting of code while it travels from your phone to the receiver of the message. This is the third kind of data that Djamel mentioned: messages exchanged, content of the calls, pictures and videos. That’s the red line for Viber. “Once the messages are delivered, we destroy the message,” Djamel explains. “Even if somebody comes to Viber to hack our servers, they won’t find it there.” Take that, Facebook.

Viber’s CEO Djamel Agaoua provided valuable insight into the tech community and the data that it collects from users.

Just because they take security seriously doesn’t mean that they have forgotten all the fun. Viber has a feature that lets you customize your own sticker pack to share with the world. It also has a chat extension that can help you keep up with your favorite sports teams like FC Barcelona and the Golden State Warriors. There are games, news updates, music option in-app. They’re also exploring chatbots with brands to help brands connect with their customers even faster.

All of these strategic moves were made with security and privacy in mind. At one point during the interview, a reporter from our group asked Djamel if he has any fears that Viber might get left behind due to their high prioritization of security over profit. By this time, I’d come to fully understand that Viber isn’t messing around when it comes to their goal, but Djamel made the message plain as day: “So be it.” In the flurry of internet activity, where we move from one app to the next at very high speeds, it’s comforting to know that there are still companies that care about our safety and security, especially since we sometimes forget it ourselves.



You can find Viber on the Google Play Store and the Apple app store.

#events #technology

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