Pro-Palestinian hackers claim to have hacked Viber

Handala Hack, a pro-Palestinian hacktivist group, claims to have breached the Viber instant messaging service. It wouldn’t be the first time – Viber is much easier to hack compared to similar apps.

In a Telegram post, the group claimed it had stolen over 740GB of data from the company's servers, including Viber's source code. The data is for sale, and Handala Hack is asking for eight bitcoins ($544,000).

“Have you seen the management panel of Viber Messenger before? Can you imagine the technology giants affiliated with the occupying regime, what information of citizens they store?” the group says in the Telegram post.

However, Viber told Cybernews in a sent statement: "Upon investigation, we have found no evidence to support any claims of intrusion into our systems or compromise of user data."

Viber was founded in 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel, but it was acquired for $900 million by Rakuten, a Japanese multinational company, in 2014. Handala Hack is thought to be a proxy group for Iran.

Hamid Kashfi, an independent IT security consultant based in Sweden, thinks the incident could be quite serious because Viber has never been famous for robust security measures and only recently joined the end-to-end encryption club after several hiccups.

“It used to be the most popular IM/Call app in the region before Telegram took over. Viber was NOT E2EE until recently, so if user chats are included…,” Kashfi said on X.

Last year, Efani, a secure mobile service provider, explained in a blog post why it thought Viber’s E2EE efforts could be much better.

“There have been discussions over the efficacy and openness of Viber's encryption techniques, even though encryption is usually seen as a beneficial feature for securing user data. Some experts say Viber's encryption could be more robust, making user chats susceptible to hacking efforts or eavesdropping,” said Efani.

When the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October 2023, Cypriot police warned about the rising number of hacked Viber accounts. Users were encouraged to enable two-factor authentication in the security settings.

Back in 2014, researchers from the University of New Haven said Viber was much easier to hack when compared to other applications. They said they were able to intercept mobile data sent through Viber with relative ease, using a PC as a wireless access point for the phone.

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