Pakistan Bans Viber for Government Officials

Government of Pakistan has decided to not to use Viber for any government official for any kind of official or unofficial communication, reported “The News” and we also independently checked this with our sources.

Initial reports suggest that government of Pakistan took the decision after it received evidence that Israeli Defence Forces are handling, maintaining and using Viber for allegedly spying into users’ data.

The “National Telecom and Information Technology Security Board”, a body that works under the Cabinet Division, has reportedly sent a directive to all the ministries and divisions intimating the officials to not to use Viber because of serious security reasons.

Also Read: NSA Has Infected Hard Drives With Spying Programs All Across the World

It won’t be out of place to mention that Viber was founded by four Israeli partners, who were part of Israeli Defence Forces. Interestingly the initial funding, worth several millions dollars, came into Viber without any clear background.

Not to be mentioned, the directive to government officials claims that despite the development of Viber was outsources to an office in Belarus, the company is throughout maintained and controlled by unknown investors.

Viber was later on Sold to a Japanese based Rakutan for USD 900 million.

Due to its functionality and features, Viber is granted access to private information of mobile users, including their call lists, messages, mic, storage and location data.

Pakistan Government, in its directive, said that it is highly likely that Viber may be a state sponsored application which is capable of monitoring every activity of a user, it is very dangerous for the government officials, especially in military, to use Viber.

Also Read: NSA and GCHQ Tried but Failed to Intercept Mobilink and Telenor Calls

In a post Snowden era, where all sorts of electronic equipment is used by foreign agencies for spying into users data, it has become extremely dangerous for government officials to keep using these communication tools that are developed by the west.

Hard part is that we are so dependent on these tools that they are hard to avoid, making the whole nation completely exposed to security leakages.

Banning Viber for government officials might just not be enough of a measure, if they are seriously thinking about securing the data, they might have to come up with complete indigenous solutions (for both hardware and software) to make sure that everything stays in our hands.

 

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Shahid Saleem

    The software is out there, I don’t know why the government does not make its own internal communication system. Or even a Pakistani system with servers hosted in Pakistan, maybe with NTC.

    Really I am not kidding, almost everything viber does can be done with free & open source software. Even the server work.

    • aamir7

      What about the hardware? which is reportedly infected with bugs as well?

      • Shahid Saleem

        Hardware is not the issue. It is Irrelevant.

        The government is telling its employees (officials) NOT to use a certain product but not telling them which product to use. Any thing that can be said against Viber can be said against Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, etc. etc. So the only solution is to provide a locally sourced & hosted service.

        Hardware cannot be fixed on the large scale, unless the government wants to spend $50 or $60/mobile device for just . Software can.

        • Fawad Hassan

          Simply use WebRTC based products like built in audio/video chat in Firefox browser which is pure P2P way of communication without any server involved except for initial handshake.

          There are others as well like talky[dot]io based on same technology.

          • Shahid Saleem

            Yes, but that is EXACTLY what I am trying to say: A service like that should 100% exist inside the country. Not based on Firefox. Not based on servers outside Pakistan. 100% inside.

            The software is there. The tools are free. But there is no movement to set up such service and distribute applications for government employee laptops and phones.

            • GUEST

              ABAY CHOOTEYE GOVT KO OR KAAM BHI KARNAY KO HAIN…

              • Shahid Saleem

                Sorry yes, I forgot the government was for breaking things not making things.

            • Usman

              That is exactly why Chinese created their own apps like WeChat, etc.

              • Shahid Saleem

                Yes, but Chinese went too far. They did not just launch local services, they also blocked other services BECAUSE THEY WANT TO CONTROL THEIR CITIZENS ON THE INTERNET.

                China is a bad model to follow.

          • Shahid Saleem

            By the way, Firefox’s system cannot work without an intermediate server for NAT punching.

        • aamir7

          You are dragging it away, as its usual with you, while you recommended to use open source software — I asked how to take care of hardware (which is bugged in firmware by NSA).

          • Shahid Saleem

            Um, you do you realize the post you are commenting on is about software and not hardware, right? So who talked about hardware? Not me. So why am I the one dragging away and not you?

            But since you insist on talking about irrelevant stuffs: ALL HARDWARE IS NOT BUGGED BY NSA. ALL HARDWARE IS NOT BUGGABLE BY NSA. If you believe otherwise, show evidence, because even people who have gone through Snowdon leak files have not found evidence that all firmware is or can be corrupted.

          • Muneeb Ullah

            first line..nicely said!

          • Zaki Uddin

            Lol, dude you nailed it!

    • Bilal Iqbal

      Actually it was based on reports that its owners are from Iarail and its privacy policy was open for interreption by company so it was suggested to stop it for govt. Employees..for inhouse developement… govt. feels comfort with regular telecom channels to be monitored and generate revenue …

    • Guest

      Telegram???

      • Shahid Saleem

        Telegram has repeatedly had problems with their crypto management. Say no to Telegram!

  • Guest

    Congratulation! Another Ban, VIBER!! What’s the next?

    #EveryAppIsBeingSpayed
    #IfWe’reInnocentWeDon’tNeedToCare

    • Guest

      Congratulations for using hash-tags where it doesn’t even matter.

      • Guest

        I know, Guest! # says more things!

  • Mohsan Hassan

    Why not Pakistani Govt just block all Viber traffic to completely restrict the users to keep Viber Free

    • Shahid Saleem

      Why don’t they also block Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, IRC, …. etc?

      Because It is a DUMB IDEA.

      • Saad Naeem

        Exactly why are they even blocking, there are more ways to use these services and i do use some of it, it doesn’t mean they should come and start blocking, even youtube should be open by now, i am tired of this pathetic banning, screw Nawaz and his friends!

        • Guest

          Have you ever thought what banning gives them advantages? Because the more the users, the more the tax will be collected. Why did they block Youtube? Why they block everything? does it give them money? What is the mystery behind that? Does the government really care us? If they block Facebook, the government will lose billions of rupees. Do you know, how? Many people load every month only to surf Facebook, they will stop to do that, in this way, the tax which the government used to collect will go to the empty hand. I’m unable to understand the h*ll!

          • Saad Naeem

            I just don’t like banning okay and good things should be open not banned. Thats what I think and think good. Did you even heard that you will be able to upgrade pirated copy of Windows to a legal Windows 10?

            • Guest

              Do you know that a person is going to be hanged after 3 days?

              • Saad Naeem

                What are you saying?

                • Guest

                  Yeah! Windows 10 will be free, perhaps it’s only for China!!

                  • Saad Naeem

                    Its worldwide, confirmed by an official email from Microsoft to Zdnet!

                    • Guest

                      If it does, it will be great!! Best for gaming, it takes less size, less RAM!! FASTER!!!

                    • Saad Naeem

                      Actually Linux is lighter, posting this by Linux Mint 17.1.

                    • Guest

                      Can you play Battlefield 4 at ultra setting on Linux Mint Seventh and point 1?

                    • Saad Naeem

                      No but i currently can’t play anything on my pc because its slow(Dell Optiplex 960 or 980).

                    • Guest

                      Linix will be my first and the best OS if they allow me to run PC games as well as software!! That’s why, it hate it

                    • Saad Naeem

                      Waiting for Ms Office on linux natively.

                    • Guest

                      I’m waiting for Windows 100! :D

                    • Saad Naeem

                      Lol!

                    • Guest

                      By the way, you can use OFFICE online easily!

                    • Saad Naeem

                      I know but what about excel?

                    • Guest

                      https :// office . live . com / start / Excel . aspx

                      #EverythingIsOne

                    • Guest

                      Excel, Powerpaint, Word everything you can get online! I think you don’t use them, you were just asking, isn’t it? :D

                    • Saad Naeem

                      Yup, I use them at Aptech Pk.

                    • Muneeb Ullah

                      Ubuntu drains battery much faster. It goes for max 2.5hrs on fully recharged laptop battery while Windows goes for more than 3.5h. I am talking about 6-cell battery on Core i3.

                      How much time Mint 17.1 runs on full recharge?+

                    • Saad Naeem

                      I am using it on a desktop.

      • Guest

        Have you ever thought what banning gives them advantages? Because the
        more the users, the more the tax will be collected. Why did they block
        Youtube? Why they block everything? does it give them money? What is the
        mystery behind that? Does the government really care us? If they block
        Facebook, the government will lose billions of rupees. Do you know,
        how? Many people load every month only to surf Facebook, they will stop
        to do that, in this way, the tax which the government used to collect
        will go to the empty hand. I’m unable to understand the h*ll!

        I’m asking this question to you, I asked the question to a wrong person – below!

        • Shahid Saleem

          That is a BS argument. I am sure the government thinks the reason for blocking Viber is a real one (possible ownership by Israelis). And government has not blocked Viber for normal people, just government employees because they are afraid of spying. Naturally normal people who worry about other kinds of spying (like industrial espionage, etc.) will take their own precautions.

          But the argument that they will loose money if all the services are blocked is a BS one. People will merely use VPN and continue to use such services or they will use alternative services.

          AND THAT IS MY ORIGINAL COMMENT POINT

          That if the government is warning its employees away from a certain service, they should also build and promote their own service. It is not an industry thing where you have to import machinery and set up power plants. It is a simple matter of:

          #1 get bandwidth from NTC, and dedicated power source (no problem after years of load shedding)
          #2 buy servers
          #3 install free OS like Linux (after all, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, all other services use Linux so it is known to work)
          #4 customise EXISTING software. You don’t even have to write a lot of code to get a scalable service like Viber. THE SOFTWARE IS OUT THERE AND FREE
          #5 there is no #5.

          As a major plus if they get local users to use the service, then everyone is better off.

          • Saad Naeem

            Thats what I have been trying to say but thanks for cooling me down and understanding. I couldn’t say a lot, first time on Disqus.

          • Guest

            Khazana Khali Hai!! It will be our government response if you give them this polite solution!! although your enigma’s solution is good one!! :D

            • Shahid Saleem

              Dear please look at Dr Saif’s group in Punjab. They are a shining beacon of how the government CAN (IF IT WANTS TO) use technology to help citizens.

              However the questions are: why are there no other groups like Dr Saif???!! Why are they not making more headway with technology to solve bureaucratic and related issues??!?!

              • Guest

                Even our government is not interested to solve the problem of load-shedding, how you can expect this? By the way, it’s a small enigma they will never think about it!! It’s only possible if they see that we get money or advantages.

                • Shahid Saleem

                  Sorry, they are two very different kinds problems.

                  Solve viber issue: get 6 good developers, spend 6 months integrating and deploying and scaling service, YOU ARE DONE.
                  Solve load shedding problem: three governments have tried, cannot be done.

                  • Guest

                    LOL! Agree!! Let’s write a letter to the government to solve it, or go to the court!! what do u think? :D

                    #WhatWeCanThen

          • Danish

            Hey Mr. why don’t you do that for us ?

            It’s easier said then done!

            • Shahid Saleem

              Why would I do it for free?

  • Saad Naeem

    You motherf***ing government! Why are you banning everything?! First Youtube and now this, screw you!!

    • Shahid Saleem

      Well, next time vote more responsibily and demand local government polls :):):)

      • Saad Naeem

        I didn’t vote, because i knew these guys would rig the elections.

    • Guest

      They recommended to not use by Govt officials, it is not banned for Public. Before abusing Govt just consider this is also elected by people.

      • Saad Naeem

        I know but people who are thinking of banning everything, are they fools?

      • Shahid Saleem

        No one is elected in bureaucracy.

  • Saad Naeem

    Even youtube has become better but no Pak government cares about that no one is able to their(Pak Gov) dirty work!

  • Shahid Saleem

    I wonder when the government will wake up and realize that Intel designs and builds chips in Israel, and then bank Intel completely…

    Last year Intel put $6 BILLION to Israeli plants to upgrade infrastructure.

    • Salman Abbas

      > ban Intel completely.
      wtf are you crazy? it will take us back to the stone ages.

      • Shahid Saleem

        If Viber is blocked because Israelis might use it to spy on government (WITHOUT ANY HARD EVIDENCE), then Intel which has huge investment in Israel and does R & D there… well, one can imagine that they build spying into the chips so…

        (NOT MY ADVOCACY)

    • Muhammad Ashraf

      for your information intel chips are being imported from costa rica or some where else but not from Israel for Pakistani market.

      • Shahid Saleem

        Key word: DESIGN.

  • Adeel

    mei tou pehlay hi kehta hun k, stop using viber.

    • GoodRaat

      mainy bhi kehta hon, net band kar ky soo jao!! sakoon ki neend ati hai!

  • askarian

    Not really a fan of Viber myself. So whatever :D

  • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

    Nice !!!
    well as far as military concerned, our military and intelligence are on US payroll and they never do anything unless their boss order them, So no need to worry and US is controlled by Israel/Jewish lobby.
    Now come to government, I guess they use viber after working hours as free phone is only at work and they only talk about useless stuff about their work, life etc etc. There is nothing Israel can get except kal kam pay nahi ana, aaj ider khana khaen gay etc etc

  • Farhan Naeem

    And what about SAP Business One – ERP for SMEs – Marketed by SAP AG in Pakistan – A ERP Soultion for Small Business from ISRAEL ….

  • cipher

    RSA encryption used by NADRA to secure citizen’s data was also invented by Israeli cryptologists. The world’s top cryptologists are all jews and most of them are israeli citizens. There is only one Muslim among the best in the world and he’s an Egyptian American (El-Gamal). Muslims are so behind the times. I doubt there is a single resident Pakistani cryptrologist. Not even in our “agencies”.

  • Azi

    that is why viber is banned in Saudi Arabia :)

  • Gandalf

    And it wouldn’t be out of place here to mention that mapping app “Waze” (now owned by Google) was also built by the Israelis. That app also continuously tracks and records your precise location and uploads all those records to servers located in Israel and USA.

    We here in Pakistan surely have the highly skilled manpower for making end-to-end encryption communication hardware and/or software. But we still rely on Israeli-origin shit.

  • Why not ban Internet..?