End-to-end encrypted chat on Windows

30 06 2013

Our governments seem to lie (not new), steal, cheat, break the law and suppress free speech and our constitutional rights. On top of that thanks to Edward Snowden we have documented that our governments spy on as good as all (internet) communication.

If you have an issue with this (and I have) and run Windows (which I don’t) then you might consider the following easy setup of your old chat channels (MSN, IRC, Google Talk and many more) with end-to-end encryption, which means Big Brother still knows when you talked to whom, but no longer about what. It seems also that the file transfers are end-to-end encrypted, but this has to be verified. I just figured this out some hours ago.

Prerequisite is that both parties (you and your contact) have to install to pieces of software (the chat client and the encryption plugin).

  1. Download Pidgin – an open source chat client talking google, yahoo and others.
  2. Download the “Off-the-Record” plugin – the actual encryption software used by Pidgin.
  3. Run both installation “.exe” files
  4. Open Pidgin and choose from the menu: Tools > Plugins (or hit Ctrl-U)
  5. Check the “Off-the-Record Messaging” check box

Done.

You can now e.g. register your google talk account with Pidgin and all your google contacts will appear in the buddy list. When you double click one to start a conversation you will notice the “not private” button which provides the option “Start private conversation”.

This generates a key and prompts the counterparty to accept it. Afterwards everything is end-to-end encrypted.

Just for the record:

In Ubuntu the plugin is already installed along with Pidgin and you only have to check the plugin in the menu.

On Mac OSX you will need the chat client Adium which is related to Pidgin I think. The OTR plugin is also included.

This is just preliminary post, but better fast and dirty than never.

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