While email is the most common way of communicating online, when it comes to having a quick word with someone online, using an instant messaging tool (IM) like gtalk or AIM is the preferred method.
However, if you are looking for a secure and encrypted chat solution to talk about sensitive stuff then the popular IM tools might not be your best bet.
RetroShare is an free and open source communication platform that allows users to chat and share files with each other over a secure connection. It is based on the f2f (friend-to-friend) protocol which is like a password-protected peer to peer network established between people who know and trust each other.
Hence, when you use RetroShare, there are no third-party servers involved. Everything happens through your ISP or VPN provider.
RetroShare can run on both Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms like Ubuntu. This article will introduce the Windows version for you.
Install RetroShare and the bundled GPG4Win (the application to create your RetroShare GPG Key). You can keep the default settings during installation.
Creating your RetroShare key
Now you need to create your own key to login to RetroShare and communicate with others. Launch “GunPG For Windows -> WinPT” shortcut in Windows Start Menu. Select “Generate a GunPG key pair” in “WinPT first Start” dialog box.
Type in your name and email in the Key Generation Wizard.
At the last step, you need to enter the “Passphrase” or password twice to complete the process.
Now you can copy your RetroShare GPG key in WinPT Key Manager.
Sharing RetroShare with your friends
Launch RetroShare. The program will prompt you to create a new profile.
Click “Generate New Profile” button. You need to enter your passphrase, which you set previously.
Now you need to complete RetroShare “Quick Start Wizard”. Just keep default value for the options you are not familiar with.
Then you can exchange GPG keys with your friends via IM or Email, and finally launch “Add a Friend Wizard” to add them.
We are all set now. You can enjoy chatting with your friends without worrying about privacy and security issues. This is an encrypted environment and not dependent on a third-party server. Hence, a lot more secure than the conventional IM tools.
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