Monday, October 14, 2013

How to create a secure and anonymous chat system

So I have spent the last week trying out many different types of chat applications and services to find out what best suites my needs. This became more important to me ever since the FBI`s crackdown on Freedom Hosting totally destroyed Tormail (RIP).

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Tormail, Tormail was a completely anonymous email system which activists, whisteblowers and other people paranoid about their identity could use to send and receive emails. Ever since Tormail was taking offline, there has definitely been a gap in the market.

I communicate with many pro-democracy activists around the world. Some of these activists reside in countries where pro-democracy activities are monitored or are illegal. So it was imperative that I find a chat system that was both secure and protected my activists and their anonymity.

I tried platforms like Bitmessage and TorChat. While both of these systems were very efficient at sending encrypted anonymous messages they were more designed for limited or single use operations. They were not particularity designed for constant communication across multiple platforms. I found them useful but unpractical for my needs.

Eventually after sorting through many applications and protocols I finally found a system that was practical and that had very high levels of encryption and security. The solution involves combining Jabber (XMPP) and Tor.

What you will need:

Pidgin (An open source jabber/XMPP client)
Tor Browser (Allows us to connect to the Tor network for anonimity and encryption)
OTR Plugin (Allows us to add an aditional layer of end-to-end encryption)
Rows.io Jabber Account (Encrypted / decentralized Jabber registration service)

Install Tor Browser, Pidgin and OTR in that order. Before you create your account configure Pidgin to use the Tor encrypted network. Tools ---> Preferences ---> Proxy:


One you are sure Pidgin is using the Tor network you can go ahead and create your username@rows.io jabber account. Since you will be using Jabber via Tor, your real IP address and other incriminating information is hidden from possible observers. 

As an added measure of security I use the OTR (Off the Record) Pidgin plugin, This applies an additional layer of end-to-end encryption so that no one can snoop on your private communications. 

Thats pretty much it. Just be sure to have the Tor Browser open the whole time (or alternately configure Tor to be a permanent service) and you will be fine. 

Not even PRISM or your local corrupt government spy agency will have the ability to intercept and view your communications. 

Want to chat and test your system? Add me: elitezebra@rows.io



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