Cryptocat: Private Encrypted Chatrooms for iPhones

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Cryptocat: Private Encrypted Chatrooms for iPhones

Encrypted chat service Cryptocat has been one of the leading privacy service providers that blocked outsiders from eavesdropping on your private conversations on iPhones and iPads. In 2013, though, Cryptocat faced a block from the Apple’s App Store and the developer even took the issue to Twitter, despite the policies of non-disclosure because he felt Apple’s ruling was unjust.

The developer says the non-disclosure agreement, part of Apple developer program, bans him from disclosing details, but he feels that the reasons behind the Apple rejection create a precedent to reject legitimate encryption software from other developers, too. “One of the reasons for Cryptocat for iPhones rejection by Apple strongly implies that any other encrypted group chat app can be rejected,” said Nadim Kobeissi in his Twitter account.

Nevertheless, Cryptocat is finally available on iTunes and users can continue enjoying privacy and security offered by ultimate encryption of private chat rooms.

This is a simple way to let people privately chat using end-to-end encryption. This app made its international fame and gained some notoriety in the light of recent NSA snooping revelations. It is also popular in countries where the freedom of speech is limited or oppressed. The developer even says his program’s popularity has cost him his own liberty and security – he goes through extra security screenings in airports and fears intrusion from the Canadian government. As a result, he moved Cryptocat’s entire network “to a Swedish nuclear bunker.”

“Easily have group conversations with your friends without fearing monitoring or interception,” says the developer in the description of his app on the Apple’s iTunes store.

The best part of this application is that it’s free, and it gives you the ability to open secured chat rooms that offer an open and accessible environment with encryption that is easy to use. Cryptocat does not require you create fixed accounts with usernames and passwords. Instead, you can create completely disposable username, start a chat conversation, or join the one created by your friends. The next time you can create a new username and chat room.

“There are no buddy lists, or account activity or account history to link back to the user,” said Cryptocat developer. “This way, Cryptocat offers a unique ephemerality that makes setting up encrypted conversations immediate and without any lasting history. It cannot be traced back to users.”

Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome web browsers already have Cryptocat apps for them, and there is a standalone client for Mac OS X. The mobile version of the Cryptocat can interact with the above-mentioned Cryptocat versions for the browsers and computers.

If you’re looking for an easy way to make your conversations private, but you do not have the expertise to mingle with the complicated software, you should try out Cryptocat. Anyone who knows the chat room name can access it. Although nobody without your personalized, secret key will be able to read what you’re typing.

How to use Cryptocat

The first thing you need to do is create a chat room name on the Cryptocat site; next, you need to share a chat room name with your recipient. It would be wise not to use the same device to transfer the chat room name, though. You will have to create a secret key to the chat room that would be known only by you and the one you will have a conversation with. You’ll enter that key in a little blue bar at the bottom of the chat room. If your key matches that of your recipient, your messages will be revealed to one another. If not, you will see sheer gibberish – encrypted messages.

Pros

  • The possibility to have a group chat.
  • The simplicity and transparency of usage.
  • Disposable chat rooms and usernames.
  • Unique chat room names and security keys created by users make the man in the middle attack almost next to impossible.
  • The application is free and its functions are transparent

Cons

Nothing that we can point or finger at.

Alternatives

Wickr, TextSecure  and SilentText, Confide

Read our review of Confide.

Conclusion

The app is simple to use and free and makes a perfect solution for the privacy-minded folks.

Cryptocat download link on iTunes