Home Tech Encryption Unseen – A Secure Skype Alternative
Unseen – A Secure Skype Alternative

Unseen – A Secure Skype Alternative

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Article updated – 30 March 2017

Unseen is an encrypted service for email, voice, video chat and IM chat. Unseen’s servers reside in Iceland, their domain registrar is in the US, and their DNS is hosted internationally by Amazon because it is considered the most resistant to attack. Unseen uses XAES encryption which is a more secure and advanced version of AES. Unseen’s version of XAES can be up to 4096 bits and uses NTRU for key exchange. Unseen has both free and paid plans, even offering lifetime memberships every so often. Unseen remains closed source software and service. I asked Unseen CEO Chris Kitze about the possibility of Unseen becoming open source and this was his response:

“I don’t think the encryption at the core will ever be open source. We’re building a new version and it’s being validated by some well known security people now. Open source doesn’t mean it’s clean. It means someone can look at the source, compile it and compare it to what is being distributed. A lot of security agencies take advantage of open source and put their own things in there or identify weaknesses and then they don’t tell you about those. If open source was so good, why don’t the banks and security agencies make all their code open source? When people can answer that question to my satisfaction, then we can talk about open source.”

This is one way to look at the issue of open source vs, closed source however this still begs the question. Do you trust the company which manages the source code? Many people trusted Skype at the time, this is where that trust was abused:

“Moreover, according to a leaked NSA slide published by the Post, Skype first became part of the NSA’s PRISM program in February 2011 — three months before Microsoft purchased the service from U.S. private equity firms Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz.” – article and article

Anyone who has ever used Skype will appreciate the simplicity of Unseen’s user interface. You can make end to end encrypted phone calls and chat with other Unseen users, you can’t however make phone calls to land lines. You do not have to be technically inclined to use Unseen, and all of the encryption is done behind the scenes. Advanced users will approve of the fact they can keep their private key themselves, away from Unseen servers if they choose. Otherwise you can let Unseen manage your keys.

When logging in we view our Unseen email inbox. We are prompted to enter our PGP email passphrase. This is so we can decrypt any encrypted email which was sent to us using our public key (if any).

Unseen-Inbox

We can manage our public and private keys by clicking on the key icon, or generate new ones:

Unseen-Key-Manager

In the Unseen chat you can communicate through encrypted instant messaging, make an encrypted audio call or an encrypted video call with ease. The audio quality exceeds Skype.

Unseen-Chat

Unseen’s Account Settings. Unseen makes it easy to access your Unseen account using TOR:

Unseen-account-settings

Advanced settings. You can choose to manage your private key yourself or have Unseen manage it for you.

You can also set a two factor login for more security against account hijacking.

Unseen-advanced-settings
Overall Unseen is an excellent Skype and email replacement if you are still using yahoo or hotmail. You can sign up for an Unseen paid plan here, or try out their free service here. Unseen’s privacy policy can be read here.

Paid Plan Options Open Free Account

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