The Onion Router (TOR) is used by many users worldwide to browse the Internet anonymously and to retrieve data that would otherwise be blocked in their location.
TorChat is an instant messenger that runs over the Tor network to offer anonymity and security to its users. The client is available for Windows and Linux, with the Windows version running out of the box without initial configuration.
Torchat uses the power of the Tor network to create a peer to peer instant messaging system; effectively a secure anonymous and encrypted instant messenger that runs right of the box. The software program is fully portable and can be run from external drives or local hard drives.
When you start TorChat for the first time you see a list of available chat partners. The list is empty except for the identity of the logged in user on first start but contacts will be listed in the interface once you add them.
New contacts are added with a right-click and the selection of Add Contact from the context menu.
Setup is a bit more complicated considering that the unique ID of each user needs to be added. It is also important to add a display name for easier user identification. That's different from many other Instant messengers where it is easier to add contacts by importing them.
Online users are indicated with a green icon in front of their username. A double-click on an icon opens a chat window to talk to the selected contact.
TorChat supports file transfers which can be started with a right-click on the chat window. It currently does not offer "gimmicks" lick chat smileys for instance.
But what are the advantages of using TorChat? The use of TOR ensures that nobody can monitor the Internet traffic to find out with whom you are chatting and sharing files and where they and you are located in the world. TorChat initiates a "fully encrypted peer-to-peer connection" between two Tor clients which means that the traffic is never leaving the TOR network. That's different from how many people perceive TOR. For web surfing and TOR, it is necessary to leave the network at some time to connect to the destination. With TorChat, that's not necessary.
TorChat is a portable application for Windows and Linux that can be downloaded directly from the project website on GitHub
One limitation of the current version is that the listening port cannot be changed unless the user is doing it in the source which would mean that it would have to be compiled again. The author promised to add a configuration option to change the listening port of the application in a future version.
Update: The project has not been updated since 2014. It appears to be abandoned. We suggest you use other services that promise secure messaging instead such as Signal.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.