How to Remain Anonymous and Chat Securely with Cryptocat
I'm sure we've all heard about MSN and Yahoo! Messenger, right? They can be useful, but the setup can be quite time consuming for those who need to use it just once or twice—and the privacy statements are a real bother. For example, we must provide our real details. You could use Fake Name Generator, but if you get caught, you will have your account suspended. I don't have a law degree, but to my understanding the United States recently passed legislation that gives the authorities the power to charge people for providing false information to websites that require you to use real details.
This is why I don't recommend the big name instant messengers above. Others big name ones that require real details are, but not limited to the following:
Did you know the government is watching our Skype conversations? Personally, I have nothing wrong with that because it is more about catching the bad guys. However, it can be a little creepy, and potentially embarrassing.
Cryptocat is an online chat room that lets you set up secure conversations in just a few clicks. It's open-sourced, released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported license. Messages are encrypted inside your own browser using the AES-256 and 4096-bit asymmetric keys. Within an hour of inactivity, all encrypted data is securely wiped (however, it doesn't state what method is uses to wipe data).
Do you want to remain anonymous when using this chat room? I suggest installing TOR and setting it up to use the hidden service located here. This also works on your iPhone, Android and BlackBerry device.
The first step is to enter your name. To remain anonymous, never use your real name. I suggest using Fake Name Generator and selecting a country and gender that doesn't represent you in anyway. Cryptocat also has translations for the following languages: French, Catalan, Basque, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Swedish.
When you have entered your name and pressed enter, you will get the following prompt. For Chrome users, I suggest installing the recommended extension.
You will now be prompted to enter your nickname.
When you have entered your nickname, you will be required to type as randomly as possible in the box presented in order to create your keys.
Now, you will finally be in the chat room. But lets take a look around and see all the options first. First things first, there is a 256 character limit (which sucks), but it is better than nothing. You can add as many people as you want to the chat room using the link at the bottom of the chat room.
You can also click on any of the people who are in the chat room to view more details. For example, it will tell you how to send them a direct message that no one else in the chat room will see. In my case, it was @mrunknowns. You can also choose whether to accept or block messages from that person and you can verify their identity using the fingerprints.
Here is an example of a private message.
The circled button is how you widen the chat room (I took the shot with it widened) and the arrow points to the upload button which we will talk about more in the next image.
You can also send encrypted images to selected recipients. The maximum size as shown below is 512kb and documents aren't allowed.
Lastly, you should always make sure your bar includes "HTTPS".