Tor releases Messenger Beta for secure chat
Mon 2 Nov 2015
The anonymous community Tor Project has released a beta version of its Tor Messenger app – a chat platform which it intends to promote among users concerned with digital privacy and security.
The latest release follows two years of development work by the Tor team, and also comes nearly nine months after the first alpha version of the tool. Like the onion routing Tor Browser, the app has been designed to protect the location, routing data of the user, and transferred information via the open source Off-The-Record (OTR) protocol.
‘Tor Messenger builds on the networks you are familiar with, so that you can continue communicating in a way your contacts are willing and able to do. This has traditionally been in a client-server model, meaning that your metadata […] can be logged by the server. However, your route to the server will be hidden because you are communicating over Tor,’ explained the Tor Project in a blog post last week.
The easy-to-use interface is similar to instant messaging apps Adium and Pidgin, however Tor points out two differences. Firstly, messages can only be received by users who are also using the OTR protocol – however this feature can be disabled. Unlike other instant messenger tools, Tor chats are not logged.
The chat software provides support for popular messaging apps including, Google Talk, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook, and is based on the Mozilla instant messaging client Instantbird.
Avoiding the risk of impersonation, the Tor Messenger will prompt users to verify the contact’s OTR fingerprint, or ‘shared secret’ – a mutually known phrase sent to the contact via other private communication methods.
With a current focus on security, robustness and user experience, Tor is requesting feedback from users on the first beta release, promising to continue working on bug fixes and updates in response to user commentary.