|Developer(s)||Rakuten Viber (part of Rakuten Inc.)|
|Initial release||December 2, 2010|
|Written in||C/C++/Python (desktop, using SIP and Qt frameworks), Objective-C (iOS), Java (Android)|
|Type||Instant messaging client and VoIP|
Viber is a cross-platform instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) application operated by Japanese multinational company Rakuten, provided as freeware for the Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS platforms. It requires a telephone number to operate. In addition to instant messaging it allows users to exchange media such as images and videorecords. As of December 2016 , Viber had 800 million registered users. The software was originally developed by Israel-based Viber Media, which was bought by Rakuten in 2014. Since 2017 its corporate name has been Rakuten Viber. It is currently based in Luxembourg.
Viber Media was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1998 by Talmon Marco and Igor Magazinnik, who are friends from the Israel Defense Forces where they were chief information officers. Marco and Magazinnik are also co-founders of the P2P media and file-sharing client iMesh. The company was run from Israel, with much of its development outsourced to Belarus in order to lower labor-costs. It was registered in Cyprus. Sani Maroli and Ofer Smocha soon joined the company as well.
In its first two years of availability, Viber did not generate revenues. It began doing so in 2013, via user payments for Viber Out voice calling and the Viber graphical messaging "sticker store". The company was originally funded by individual investors, described by Marco as "friends and family". They invested $20 million in the company, which had 120 employees as of May 2013 .
On February 13, 2014, Rakuten announced they had acquired Viber Media for $900 million. The sale of Viber earned the Shabtai family (Benny, his brother Gilad, and Gilad's son Ofer) some $500 million from their 55.2% stake in the company. At that sale price, the founders each realized over 30 times return on their investments.
Viber was initially launched for iPhone on December 2, 2010, in direct competition with Skype. It was launched on the Android platform on July 19, 2012, followed by BlackBerry and Windows Phone on May 8, 2012, and Nokia's Series 40, Symbian and Samsung's Bada platform on July 24, 2012, by which time the application had 90 million users.
In July 2013, a desktop version for Windows and macOS was released. In August 2013, Viber for Linux was released as a public beta and in August 2014 a final version. In June 2016 a UWP-based desktop application for Windows 10 was released in the Windows Store. Viber is one of the more popular messenger applications in Russia.
In December 2012 Viber added 'stickers' to the application. In October 2013, Viber started selling sticker packs.
In December 2013, Viber officially launched Viber Out, a feature that provides users the option to call mobile and landline numbers via VoIP without the need for the application. Viber Out was originally released in November only to help Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines connect with their loved ones.
Viber's desktop version uses TCP and UDP ports 5242, 4244, 5243, 9785, and the standard HTTP/HTTPS ports 80 and 443.
In November 2016, Viber launched Public Accounts, to allow brands to engage in promotion and customer service on the platform, with initial partners including The Huffington Post, Yandex and The Weather Channel. The app integrates with CRM software and offers chatbot APIs for customer service.
On November 4, 2014, Viber scored 1 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Secure Messaging Scorecard". Viber received a point for encryption during transit but lost points because communications were not encrypted with keys that the provider didn't have access to (i.e. the communications were not end-to-end encrypted), users could not verify contacts' identities, past messages were not secure if the encryption keys were stolen (i.e. the service did not provide forward secrecy), the code was not open to independent review (i.e. the code was not open-source), the security design was not properly documented, and there had not been a recent independent security audit. On November 14, 2014, the EFF changed Viber's score to 2 out of 7 after it had received an external security audit from Ernst & Young's Advanced Security Centre.
On April 19, 2016, Rakuten added end-to-end encryption to their service, but only for one-to-one and group conversations in which all participants are using the latest Viber version for Android, iOS, Windows (Win32) or Windows 10 (UWP). The company said that the encryption protocol had only been audited internally, and promised to commission external audits "in the coming weeks". In May 2016, Viber published an overview of their encryption protocol, saying that it is a custom implementation that "uses the same concepts" as the Signal Protocol.
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