Recap 2013 and the revelations about rampant electronic spying by the NSA certainly come to mind. Edward Snowden has released, and continues to release, a barrage of highly confidential documents that detail how the agency has been tapping into electronic communications. While major companies say that they’ll do more to protect user data, some simply don’t see it as enough of a guarantee for their privacy. So back in September, the folks at BitTorrent revealed that they are working on a messaging product so that “your messages stay yours: private, secure and free.” Today they shed some more light on the service called BitTorrent Chat.
The whole idea behind BitTorrent Chat is to adopt a decentralized system that eliminates the need for a central authority, mainly servers. If users are able to communicate peer-to-peer without having to rely on servers, which can be accessed by government agencies, they can have some semblance of online privacy. Existing messaging services rely on servers in the cloud where messages are secured, BitTorrent Chat won’t be based on that method. Instead, a process known as public key cryptography will be employed, whereby through public key encryption, users will be able to encrypt messages that they send using their public and private key. The team is also working on forward secrecy, so that every time a conversation is started with a contact, a temporary key is generated using each of the keypairs, The temporary key will exist for that one conversation only and will be deleted forever after users are done sending messages, this is a safeguard against someone finding out a user’s private key and accessing all of their messages.
Moreover, just like other BitTorrent products, Chat is also going to use a distributed hash table to locate IP address, allowing users to find contacts without having to go through a server. BitTorrent hasn’t said as yet when Chat is going to be ready for public release, at this point in time, it is only inviting select people to join a private alpha program.