How Tor Messenger Beta keeps your Messages Private

If you hang out on the Dark Web a lot, chances are you may also be want to use your Tor Browser for messaging.

After all, if you setting up a shady deal online, some of your contacts may need to message you secretly without the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) or NSA (National Security Agency) watching.

MICO Wars - How Tor Messenger Beta keeps your Messages Private - 07-11-2015 LHDEER

So along comes Tor Messenger (Hockenson, 2015, October 29), a chat client that’s based on the Mozilla community-developed Instant Bird as described in the Tor Press Release dated October 29th, 2015 entitled Tor Messenger Beta: Chat over Tor, Easily.

So how does this Tor Messenger manage to keep your messages secure?

Tor Messenger Beta – Secret Railway for Private encrypted messages

Tor Messenger encrypts both the sender of the message as well as the recipient, ensuring end-to-end securely sent messages. Although this is a Tor Messenger, it doesn’t use the Dark Web, the hidden 94% of the Internet to communicate.

MICO Wars - How Tor Messenger Beta keeps your Messages Private - 07-11-2015 LHDEER

Rather, it relies on a series of routers run by volunteers (Baraniuk, 2015, October 30) that are running a Tor approved encrypted Router that keeps the identity of the sender and recipient secret.

By running their own Router Relay over the Dark Web and not relaying the message via regular Servers and routers on the Internet end-to-end privacy is ensured to quote security researcher at University College London, Steven Murdoch: “They’re computers run by volunteers and in a censored area your computer will connect to these. Those services are not publicly listed anywhere – they should not be blocked even if access to the Tor network is blocked”.

It has a nice easy-to-use GUI (Graphic User Interface) and supports OTR (Off-the-Record) Messaging on the fly, which involves simply exchanging a secret key. The Tor Messenger accesses all your contact lists and warns you if the person on the other end isn’t using (Farivar, 2015, Oct 31) the OTR, blocking you by default from messaging them.

It’s compatible with other popular chat clients so it’s not a total switcheroo:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • IRC
  • Jabber (XMPP)
  • Twitter

Because of the familiarity of using clients you are familiar with, you get the best of both worlds; contact with your clients but with your metadata hidden from the prying eyes thanks to your Tor Browser.

Alas, it does have a flaw; the sender’s location cannot be traced, but the recipient data is left on the server handing (Olewitz, 2015, November 4) on the information to their ISP. As the Tor Messenger is being Beta tested, best to use a VPN (Deer, 2015, September 1) while using the Tor Browse to make it a little harder for the Snoops to really connect the communication dots.

It also works with other Browsers aside from Tor browser, but I’d recommend that you opt for a Tor Browser for the added benefit of being able to communicate anonymously on the Web.

Here’s the link:

Tor Messenger Beta: Chat over Tor, Easily

Tor Messenger for Linux (32-bit)

Tor Messenger for Linux (64-bit)

Tor Messenger from Windows

Tor Messenger for OS X

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2015, September 1). Cable Providers comply with BCJ Cable Channel Removal – How to install a VPN to Stream American Cable Channels on your Roku. Retrieved from  http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2015/09/Cable-Providers-comply-with-BCJ-Cable-Channel-Removal.html
  2. Hockenson, L. (2015, October 29). Chatting over Tor just got a whole lot easier. Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com/apps/2015/10/29/chatting-over-tor-just-got-a-whole-lot-easier/
  3. Baraniuk, C. (2015, October 30). Tor launches anti-censorship Messenger service. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34677323
  4. Farivar, C. (2015, Oct 31). Take 5 minutes and up your opsec game with Tor Messenger [Updated]. Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/10/how-to-use-tor-messenger-the-most-secure-chat-program-around/
  5. Olewitz, C. (2015, November 4). Tor Project launches its first cross-platform messenger app for anonymous, encrypted IM. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/tor-project-launches-messenger-beta-encrypted-anonymous-im/
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