Encrypted IM project, Cryptocat, looks to mobile this year

Several improvements are in the works for the encrypted instant messaging application

Cryptocat, a project building an instant messaging platform that provides more privacy and security for activists, plans a host of improvements this year, including developing an application for mobile devices.

An open-source program, Cryptocat is the brainstorm of Nadim Kobeissi, who launched the project in his spare time between his studies at Concordia University in Montreal. It fell under a fair amount of criticism last year, not for its intent but skepticism over the technical challenge of building an encrypted instant messaging product that would be impervious to spying.

The somewhat negative attention did increase awareness of Cryptocat, which has gained momentum and laid out a roadmap for development this year.

Kobeissi wrote in a report outlining Cryptocat's goals that while the project does not use in-depth methods to track usage due to privacy reasons, as many as 8,000 people were using the application daily in December.

"Cryptocat is being built so that anyone can chat on the Internet without being surveilled, even if they're not a computer scientist," Kobeissi wrote.

In May, Cryptocat plans to release mobile applications for the iPhone and Android mobile platforms. The applications will allow multiple people to chat at the same time and also have push notifications and message delivery confirmation amongst other features, Kobeissi wrote. The project also expects to begin testing Cryptocat on Mozilla's Firefox operating system for mobile phones later this year.

Also on the technical side, Cryptocat would like to employ the so-called "Socialist Millionaire Protocol" (SMP) within the application, which is a way for two people to confirm each other's identity. Cryptocat currently uses public key fingerprints.

Kobeissi wrote Cryptocat would also like to implement permanent storage of encryption keys. The application now does not store keys on the client side, so those keys must be regenerated, which is a time-consuming process that also requires users to authenticate themselves again.

Cryptocat is translated into 32 languages, including obscure ones such as Tibetan, which is unpaid work that sometimes results in unreliable translations. Kobeissi wrote that they'd like to establish a translation fund to ensure that translations are reliable and on-time with coming product releases.

Other goals include developing a "field guide" for new users in order to train the target audience for the application, such as journalists and human rights workers, as well as create a field training program. Cryptocat notably does not have a privacy policy yet, either, so "formulating and publishing a legally valid privacy policy is necessary," Kobeissi wrote.

Cryptocat received about US$100,000 in funding last year, with 95 percent coming from Radio Free Asia's Open Technology Fund and the remainder from Open Internet Tools Project, which supports various open-source secure communications projects.

"We are infinitely thankful for the serious and necessary support our sponsors have given us," Kobeissi wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationssecurityCryptocatsoftware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?