Anonymous instant messaging for real privacy
Ricochet is an opensource anonymous instant messaging program for Windows, Mac and Linux. It focuses on a different approach to instant messaging that doesn’t trust anyone in protecting your privacy. It’s goals are simple, and necessary today’s surveillance society:
- Eliminate metadata. Nobody knows who you are, who you talk to, or what you say.
- Stay anonymous. Share what you want, without sharing your identity and location.
- Nobody in the middle. There are no servers to monitor, censor, or hack.
- Safe by default. Security isn’t secure until it’s automatic and easy to use.
How it works
Ricochet uses the Tor network to reach your contacts without relying on messaging servers. It creates a hidden service, which is used to rendezvous with your contacts without revealing your location or IP address.
Instead of a username, you get a unique address that looks like
ricochet:7si2t5z75zj2hzsd. Other Ricochet users can use this address to send a contact request – asking to be added to your contacts list. This one is ours. For you to add contacts you will need to know their Ricochet address or they will need to know yours to initiate exchange. It is advisable to use a secure means to transmit and receive this address so you are sure it is the correct person you want to add. Messengers such as Signal or Silence are two examples of a simple and secure way to exchange your Ricochet address.
You can see when your contacts are online, and send them messages. File transfers are not available yet but it is planned. Your list of contacts are only known to your computer and never exposed to servers or network traffic monitoring. Everything sent and received is end-to-end encrypted so only the intended recipient can decrypt it. The messages are anonymized over the Tor network so no one knows who sent it or where it came from.
Ricochet has been around since March of 2014 when it was first named Torsion. It is still being developed and they do offer the caveat stating it is experimental software and could contain bugs. A full audit of the software has been completed and can be viewed here.
Setting up Ricochet is simple. Start by downloading the software from the Ricochet website. Follow the installation options. If you are behind a firewall and need a special configuration, you can easily set those parameters.
Clicking Configure will give you these options for connection, otherwise just click Connect.
Next, Ricochet connects on the Tor network.
Below is the main user interface of Ricochet. This is just an example of the simplicity of the program and what a conversation would look like.