Tor Project launches encrypted anonymous chat app to the public

The app gives users the chance to chat anonymously across Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

The Tor Project has launched the beta version of Tor Messenger, an easy-to-use encrypted message client for those concerned about their privacy and potential surveillance.

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The Tor Project is a non-profit which runs the Tor network, a system of routes and servers designed to make online users more difficult to track online and disguise Internet activity, as well as access hidden areas of the Web hosted on .onion websites.

One of the non-profit's projects is Tor Messenger. The client, now released to the general public, is based on Instantbird, a messaging app which allows users to connect to separate messenger systems.

The Tor Project says Instantbird was chosen as its transport protocols are written in a "memory safe" language -- Javascript -- and already supports a number of languages, as well as the fact Instantbird is an XUL application. While the client lacked off-the-record (ORT) cryptographical protocol support, Tor has implemented the new features within the beta Tor messenger.

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OTR messaging is automatically implemented by default, which will no doubt frustrate eavesdroppers wishing to spy upon the content of messages. One of the main draws of the client is the easy-to-use chat interface which keeps all of the anti-surveillance protocols under the hood, removing the complexity often associated with setting up and using anonymizing services.

Jabber (XMPP), IRC, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, Twitter, Yahoo, and others are all supported through the beta client.

"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," the team says.

"This has traditionally been in a client-server model, meaning that your metadata (specifically the relationships between contacts) can be logged by the server. However, your route to the server will be hidden because you are communicating over Tor."

See also: 10 things you didn't know about the Dark Web

Tor Messenger beta is available for Windows, Mac and both 32-bit and 64-bit Linux.

The Tor Messenger's beta release is the culmination of several years of work. There has been three previous alpha releases of the client used by contributors to the project in order to destroy bugs and smoothen the system. While the beta version is far from perfect, The Tor Project is asking for feedback and further bugs.

In the future, the Tor Project team hopes to fix software issues and release updates on the same cycle as Mozilla's Extended Support Releases (ESR). There is also the possibility of future versions supporting encrypted Twitter direct messages, encrypted file transfer and automatic updates.

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