Tor Messenger Beta: Chat over Tor, Easily

WARNING STARTS

As of March 2018, Tor Messenger is no longer maintained and you should NOT use it. Please see the announcement for more information.

WARNING ENDS

Today we are releasing a new, beta version of Tor Messenger, based on Instantbird, an instant messaging client developed in the Mozilla community.

What is it?

Tor Messenger is a cross-platform chat program that aims to be secure by default and sends all of its traffic over Tor. It supports a wide variety of transport networks, including Jabber (XMPP), IRC, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, Twitter, Yahoo, and others; enables Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging automatically; and has an easy-to-use graphical user interface localized into multiple languages.

What it isn't...

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. 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.

We are also excited about systems like Pond and Ricochet, which try to solve this problem, and would encourage you to look at their designs and use them too.

Why Instantbird?

We considered a number of messaging clients: Pidgin, Adam Langley's xmpp-client, and Instantbird. Instantbird was the pragmatic choice -- its transport protocols are written in a memory-safe language (JavaScript); it has a graphical user interface and already supports many natural languages; and it's a XUL application, which means we can leverage both the code (Tor Launcher) and in-house expertise that the Tor Project has developed working on Tor Browser with Firefox. It also has an active and vibrant software developer community that has been very responsive and understanding of our needs. The main feature it lacked was OTR support, which we have implemented and hope to upstream to the main Instantbird repository for the benefit of all Instantbird (and Thunderbird) users.

Current Status

Today we are releasing a beta version with which we hope to gain both usability and security related feedback. There have been three previous alpha releases to the mailing lists that have already helped smooth out some of the rougher edges.

Downloads (Updated)

Get the latest version

Instructions

  • On Linux, extract the bundle(s) and then run: ./start-tor-messenger.desktop
  • On OS X, copy the Tor Messenger application from the disk image to your local disk before running it.
  • On all platforms, Tor Messenger sets the profile folder for Firefox/Instantbird to the installation directory.

  • Note that as a policy, unencrypted one-to-one conversations are not allowed and your messages will not be transmitted if the person you are talking with does not have an OTR-enabled client. You can disable this option in the preferences to allow unencrypted communication but doing so is not recommended.

Source Code

We are doing automated builds of Tor Messenger for all platforms.

The Linux builds are reproducible: anyone who builds Tor Messenger for Linux should have byte-for-byte identical binaries compared with other builds from a given source. You can build it yourself and let us know if you encounter any problems or cannot match our build. The Windows and OS X builds are not completely reproducible yet but we are working on it.

What's to Come

Our current focus is security, robustness and user experience. We will be fixing bugs and releasing updates as appropriate, and in the future, we plan on pairing releases with Mozilla's Extended Support Release (ESR) cycle. We have some ideas on where to take Tor Messenger but we would like to hear what you have to say. Some possibilities include:

How To Help

Give it a try and provide feedback, requests, and file bugs (choose the "Tor Messenger" component). If you are a developer, help us close all our tickets or help us review our design doc. As always, we are idling on IRC in #tor-dev (OFTC) (nicks: arlolra; boklm; sukhe) and subscribed to the tor-talk/dev mailing lists.

Please note that this release is for users who would like to help us with testing the product but at the same time who also understand the risks involved in using beta software.

Thanks and we hope you enjoy Tor Messenger!

Update: For Windows 10 (and some Windows 7, 8) users who were experiencing an issue in Tor Messenger where it wouldn't start, we have updated the download links above with a newer version that fixes the problem described in bug 17453.

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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Is there a trustworthy test server where a clueless newbie to chat can try out Tor Messenger without needing to create an account?

If this question seems odd, that is because I have hardly ever used any chat program.

You can create an XMPP account on any of the servers out there which support in-band account registration (meaning you can create an account without leaving Tor Messenger). You can choose from: jabber.ccc.de, jabber.otr.im, jabber.calyxinstitute.org. You do not need to give a name or email address.

> jabber.ccc.de, jabber.otr.im, jabber.calyxinstitute.org

All of these servers have some problems.

  • jabber.calyxinstitute.org and jabber.otr.im do not send unencrypted messages.
  • jabber.ccc.de does not allow to register an account. The error:
    There was an error registering the account. Reason: Forbidden. The requesting entity does not possess the required permissions to perform the action.

I would recommend other servers, which are well tested and work nice as both clearnet and onion servers:

If somebody doesn't care about connections with other XMPP servers, this onion XMPP server is also good: http://cyjabr4pfzupo7pg.onion

That's odd. jabber.ccc.de registration should work -- we have done it all the time and so have other users (just verified again). Perhaps try again as it may have been a temporary issue?

The other issue is that right now we don't recommend any servers. We will have a list for the users and that is one of the improvements we have to make.

Yes, you are right. Now jabber.ccc.de (okj7xc6j2szr2y75.onion) works fine (I tested it again). Thanks for this notice!

However, sadly jabber web page web.jabber.ccc.de no longer works. It would be good if they provide also onion web page and web page for registering/unregistering jabber accounts (not all jabber clients can do this work).

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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More enthusiastic press coverage:

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/10/how-to-use-tor-messenger-the-mo…
Take 5 minutes and up your opsec game with Tor Messenger
Sending chat traffic via Tor and requiring OTR is a big win for privacy.
Cyrus Farivar
31 Oct 2015

> On Thursday, the Tor Project released its first public beta of Tor Messenger, an easy-to-use, unified chat app that has security and cryptography baked in. If you care about digital security, you should ditch whatever chat program you're using and switch to it right now.

CF answers an important question not covered in the announcement:

> If you want to sign up for a new XMPP account, you can quickly register one with the Calyx Institute. All you have to do within Tor Messenger, is make up a user name and password, and use the server: jabber.calyxinstitute.org and you’re all set.

VirusTotal can't do squat about it. You should be working with the producers of the two anti-virus products that are causing the false positives. Good luck with that - you're gonna need it, given who these two producers are.

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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After downloading, verifying, un-xz-tar, the 32 bit Linux version of the TM application opens in Tails 1.6, but apparently is unable to connect to the Calyx Institute server to create an account as per the instructions in

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/10/how-to-use-tor-messenger-the-mo…
Take 5 minutes and up your opsec game with Tor Messenger
Sending chat traffic via Tor and requiring OTR is a big win for privacy.
Cyrus Farivar
31 Oct 2015

I guess the problem may be the Tails firewall blocks the default port?

Thanks to CF for volunteering to help chat n00bs test TM!

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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App refused to start with the message 'You cannot use this version of the application Tor Messenger with this version of Mac OS X. Running 10.5.8 on a dual-core G5. Could you compile a version that isn't restricted to rich people please?

While we would love to support all version on all platforms, building, testing and debugging is difficult as it's a time- and resource-intensive task. Unfortunately we have to stick with the most commonly used platforms. You can open a ticket about this and if a lot of people request, we can look at it.

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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Again... Why not Jitsi messenger???????? You dont want audio calls over TOR, is that why?

If they would find a way to make use of WebRTC in an anonymous manner, why would that be bad? P2P in general is good. Leaking real IP addresses of course is not.

can Jitsi be configured to nnot use start-tls? we have more trust in 'obsolet' tls with can't be invariantly connected to im activity. right now we prefer psi as it has 'obsolet' tls and socks4a and not overloaded with multiprotocol support and unverifyed add-ons.

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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Google Talk refuses the connection calling this "not a modern messaging client"

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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Unable to open the DMG image on OSX 10.11. The sha256 on the downloaded image checks out, as does the signature on the checksum file. However, I get an "Operation timed out" error when trying to open/mount the DMG. No other DMGs have this problem. Is it corrupt?

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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When we use the twitter protocol, will it show whatever Tor node we're using or the IP from Instantbird?

Will this be like group accounts where the admin of a twitter account can see all IPs of others in the Instantbird twitter dm group? Because twitter's user data shows IPs of contributors.

Anonymous

October 31, 2015

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This does not seem to work for services with Two Factor authentication, like Facebook or Yahoo!

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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If we have our Jabber accounts, facebook and twitter all included in Tor messenger, can anyone we chat with ever see all our accounts we have connected to Tor messenger?

The Jabber server you use can see who you are talking with but not what you are talking about. This is also true for Facebook and Google Talk for conversations with a single person (one-to-one conversations) since everything is encrypted with OTR.

I think he/she asked you about another thing. Let me phrase it more clearly. Suppose, I attached two different XMPP contacts to my tor messenger: user1@server1 and user2@server2. Can people in my contact list from user1@server1 learn that I also have contact user2@server2 in tor messenger?

(To my knowledge, the answer is 'no'. It should not be possible.)

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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The workaround works on win 10 x64 (assuming everything else functions as it was supposed to).

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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Instandbird is like Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey and i use it long time. You can make an Add-on for use TOR and i think, this is the better way! If i use your Bundle i must be configure all my connections that i have in Instandbird, thats very bad!

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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You can chat through other chat messengers, such as CryptoCat and various others. I do not know how Tor Messenger competes or outperforms any other ones. What is the unique feature of Tor Messenger versus others?

Isn't any iistant messenger which support socks4a proxy & otp can work across tor network? btw is there any specific recommendations for xmpp server with small footprint to be used in hidden service installation for smaal group of people? thanks

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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Windows Vista pc

Tools > Addons > Extensions > ctypes-otr > Options

Next to where it says 'Key For Account', I have one Jabber account and one Twitter account listed. The Jabber has its keys and shows the fingerprint. For my twitter, it didn't show anything and asked me to generate them. I generated keys for my Twitter and it shows the fingerprint now. Would it make any difference if keys/fingerprint for my Twitter are made or not since they were not automatically generated when I added the Instantbird app to my Twitter account? Would generating keys/fingerprint uniquely identify me on Twitter if I had more than one Twitter account?

Twitter OTR keys are somewhat irrelevant as we don't support direct messages yet (Instantbird doesn't), so we can't do OTR. We have plans to implement direct messaging support and that will be an awesome thing to have. Thanks for the feedback though, since you can't use Twitter for OTR, we shouldn't ask you to generate keys or allow that.

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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not able to run on my windows xp system showing error " The procedure entry point _vsnprintf_s could not be located in the dynamic link library msvcrt.dll "

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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On current stable Ubuntu:

$ ./start-tor-messenger.desktop
Launching '/Messenger/start-tor-messenger --detach'...
$

But nothing else happens and no processes spawned related to tor-messenger?
Are there dependencies to run?

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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A small question: How am I able to choose an account picture?

- Linux 64-bit
- created XMPP account successfully
- when clicking on the placeholder avatar in the TM main window nothing happens

Thank you!

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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You don't need to approve this comment because it's essentially worthless, but kudos to whoever from the Tor Project writes responses to these comments. About 80% of them are completely bullshit, and you still manage to write level-headed responses.

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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XP-SP-2 has error:
Windows XP, instantbird.exe - entry point not found:
"the procedure entry point _vsnprintf_s could not be located in the dynamic library msvcrt.dll"

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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Would love it if you fixed Google Talk support. Google denies the login no matter what I do, loggin in with Tor Browser multiple ways does absolutely nothing to fix it.

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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> You should follow the great work the Tails people are doing to get Tor Messenger working: https://labs.riseup.net/code/issues/8577

Where one anonym wrote:

> Please don't report issues to the Tor Messenger developers unless you can reproduce it outside of Tails too!

Ugh, usual complaints about lack of encrypted/anonymous bug reports (except at this blog, sort of). And the issue is labeled "low priority".

If I understand, my guess was wrong and TM won't yet work in Tails, the Tails people need to make (minor) changes to the code. ("Work" is not the same thing as "work securely", of course.)

Thanks to Tor Messenger team for your work so far. TM appears promising but in future I strongly encourage you to try to bring TM into Tails. I'd like to see a credible security audit of TM as part of Tails specifically. Some of the desiderata listed in replies above also appeal.

Anonymous

November 01, 2015

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Someone criticized Tor Messenger (over at Ars Technica):

> Given how every other week there's news of a latest TOR weakness that's been exploited, it's not THAT secure. Nor it's that anonymous given how flaws have been exploited so people got raided after such flaws and weaknesses were used by Big Gov,,, You've got a messenger on TOR (a network that's regularly in the news for the latest successful takedown)

I believe this comment refers to several highly publicized raids in the past few years conducted by EU and US police agencies on people who were suspected of visiting specific Tor hidden services, not on Tor users generally. From my understanding, the techniques the LEAs are thought to have exploited to obtain the true IP addresses of those people do not directly affect intended TM use cases (someone correct me if I am wrong!).

The poster added that the Tor network

> is attracting more than its fair share of snoopers (and where your traffic will be a bigger chunk of total traffic than a commercial network)

That may be the weirdest argument against using Tor to improve your anonymity against at least some actors that I've seen yet.

Security and anonymity are valid concerns when Beta testing any application intended to enhance anonymity, but it's important to try to have a correct understanding fo the most likely hazards.