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Intro: Ricochet

Ricochet is an instant messenger that aims to provide real privacy. Despite its goal, it’s user-friendly – very user-friendly.

One of the many advantages Ricochet has over the other messengers is that it’s metadata-free. That means that no one will have those juicy bits of data like who you talk to, when you talk, or what you’ve talked about. You can imagine how frustrated the NSA must be since they love to collect metadata.

Metadata is very dangerous. Your adversary may not know who you are or what you’re talking about but he may know who you talked to, when you talked, how long you talked for, when you logged on, when you logged off, how frequently you do log on and off, and the list goes on. When you put all of this data together, you will end with a fairly good profile. Depending on the metadata trail, you could end up compromising yourself.

Ricochet utilizes Tor hidden services to communicate, so everything is end-to-end encrypted, making it virtually impossible for MITM attacks to occur. Because Ricochet is a peer-to-peer instant messenger, it isn’t dependent on any servers, so there’s nothing for LE to raid or compromise.

You are anonymous and don’t have to trust anyone, which is ideal. You don’t need to register on anything or connect to some remote server. It is incredibly hard to make fatal mistakes, it’s idiot-proof. It’s even available on all platforms.

Downloading and Running

You can download Ricochet at its site, and if you haven’t already, please make it a habit of yours to download over encrypted connections and verify sensitive pieces of software like Ricochet using PGP and/or checksums. If you prefer to compile from source, building instructions are available. The source code is on the github repository and the Ricochet site.

Since I’m assuming you’re using Linux, you can extract the package with

tar -xvf ricochet-*.tar.bz2

and run it with

cd ricochet

./ricochet

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Usage

If you’re interested in sandboxing Ricochet to gain more security, there is a great README file that talks about this.

You may notice how Ricochet opens up the same way the Tor Browser does, that’s because Tor is already bundled into it. Because of this and how it doesn’t use system-wide instances of Tor, Ricochet will sadly not work on Tails, although this may change in the future.

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Once opened, you will be met with a very clean UI that is easy to navigate.

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Upon clicking the add button, you will be presented with the option to copy your Ricochet address or add someone using their address.

Users are identified by their Ricochet address which looks like this: ricochet:rs7ce36jsj24ogfw

To make easier to distinguish between different people, you can rename your contacts. Your contacts are saved locally.

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If you decide to change your settings, you can do so with ease.

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All things considered, Ricochet is a definite game changer and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants real privacy. Remember though, that it’s an experimental piece of software and it’s constantly evolving. Please form your own educated opinion.

I hope this has been helpful, thanks.

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