The Tor foundation is developing an instant messenger based on Instantbird, which will allow users to communicate with each other anonymously and free from prying eyes.
Tor is a system originally developed by the U.S. Navy for secure communication, but in recent years, it has become the go-to method for civilians to surf the web anonymously. You may have heard of it recently during the latest season of Netflix’s House of Cards, where a reporter uses it to ask hackers to tap the Vice President’s phone records. As outlandish as this might seem, Tor isn’t too far from what’s being presented on the show.
By using a series of proxy servers which bounce internet traffic back and forth, Tor enables users to communicate without being subject to traffic analysis.”The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you—and then periodically erasing your footprints,” explain the Tor developers.
Tor also allows access to the deep web; a part of the internet which cannot be found using conventional search engines and make up the majority of the content of the net. In the deep web you can find drug dealers, assassins for hire, as well as those simply concerned with their privacy and those wanting to avoid the eyes of an oppressive government.
The Tor messenger will be built with Instantbird as a base
Now, the developers behind TOR are turning their attention to instant messaging, by creating the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle (TIMB). It will allow a Tor enabled device to bounce their IM traffic back and forth, thus allowing for the same secure communication that is enabled through their Tor browser bundle.
The new messenger will be a modified version of Instantbird. “We picked Instantbird because even though it lacks OTR support (which we will work on), it meets all the other goals, including having a clean UI, good protocol support, pure JS implementations, cross-platform bundles, support for multiple languages and also the fact that we can use the in-house Mozilla/XPCOM expertise. We have already integrated Tor Launcher with Instantbird so we can distribute Tor and related components,” explains the Tor foundation in a statement.
The new messenger is expected to launch this month, and will be available on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux computers.