Businesses are turning to encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram for internal communication as security becomes a pressing concern even if they stay active on established platforms like Messenger and WhatsApp – both owned by Facebook – for the convenience of their customers.
“I learned that he [Signal] has better encryption than WhatsApp and Viber, ”said Charles O. de Belen, founder of the rental platform Dibi.Rent, on using Signal to communicate with his team despite its “limited functionality”.
According to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Telegram and Signal increased by 1200% in the first four months of 2021 after WhatsApp announced that under its revised terms of service, it would share information with Facebook.
During a recent book launch, Mario R. Domingo, founder of machine learning store Neural Mechanics Inc., said local businesses need to log into Facebook (despite privacy concerns) because it is where all the Filipinos are.
“You have to find a way to somehow present your business to users,” he said at the event. “In the context of the pandemic, it’s just a requirement. “
Neural Mechanics itself uses Slack for work; Viber for informal chats like birthday greetings; and Slack, Telegram and WhatsApp for customers.
“When it comes to outcalling, we go where the customers are,” said Domingo.
Doctors also use messaging apps for consultations while on telemedicine platforms like SeeYouDoc and Medifi. “Viber is good because almost all doctors have it. Facebook Messenger too,” said Dr Janie-Vi Ismael-Gorospe, general practitioner at Sta. Rosa Community Hospital. added, is the mix of personal and professional messages (unless a doctor manages a separate account for teleconsultations).
WhatsApp is used by almost 90% of people in most countries, according to the Internet security company Nord VPN. There are only 25 out of 195 countries where WhatsApp is not the most used messaging app.
Viber, another ubiquitous messaging app, ended 2020 with 421% growth in the number of users and a 509% growth in messages sent. In the Philippines, it has a penetration rate of 71%.
Sought for a response to concerns about user privacy, Viber’s Senior Commercial Director for APAC, David Tse, reaffirmed his commitment in this regard. The platform, he said, has end-to-end encryption by default and contains features that allow users to control their data. Among these are messages that disappear, which activate each message with a self-destruct timer, and community interactions, which allow direct chats without sharing phone numbers.
“Viber cannot read your personal conversations or listen to your one-to-one calls,” Tse added. “Nothing you share is ever stored on Viber’s servers once delivered. ”
Kaspersky, a digital privacy firm, noted that key considerations for evaluating the security of messaging applications are:
- End-to-end encryption – By scrambling private chat messages, only the sender and the user have the “keys” to read them.
- Open source code – This opens the application to accountability and auditing by external experts.
- Self-destructive messages – A feature that allows messages to disappear after a set period of time.
- Use of data – Certain types of information called metadata, such as your phone number, can still be collected despite end-to-end encryption.
– Patricia B. Mirasol