Instant messaging services and apps have significantly grown in number over the past few years, so users of all personalities and online behaviors are likely able to find one that they’re completely comfortable using.
There are the popular messaging services like WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Viber, Allo, and so on.
It is generally assumed by users that all these messaging services offer complete secrecy—that the messages are encrypted when sent and can’t be intercepted and read by any third party.
However, there is no guarantee that government agencies will not be weighing in, since they suspect that terrorists and criminals will take advantage of the encryption and exchange secrets and plans among themselves.
A new messaging service, on the other hand, is specifically meant to accommodate for users of the dark web.
Briar Messenger works within the Tor network. See here how to use TOR for anonymity.
This is because the Tor browser is the standard browser for use by darknet sites, and the whole network is expected to provide ultimate privacy and confidentiality.
With the objective of providing a level of comfort to the users of their service, Briar Messenger has had its app validated by an independent audit team.
Cure53 is the organization that conducted the security audit of the Briar messenger.
The audit report has had some positive comments to say about the app and has made a recommendation that the messaging platform does indeed provide the required levels of privacy and security to users.
Currently Only on Android OS
Briar has since been released in its beta version following the security audit and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
The idea behind releasing the beta version is to receive feedback from users, as well as to comply with the security audit team’s recommendation that the beta version be released and monitored before the fully functional app can be made available on the Play Store.
The developers have yet to come up with other versions of the app to be used on desktops or iOS devices.
These may be still work in progress, assuming the Briar messenger for these platforms should also be available in due course.
Some Unique Features
One Briar’s unique features is that it allows you to communicate from device-to-device without having to go through a server.
The messages undergo encryption from one end to another, so only the recipient you have paired your device with can read it at their end.
Experts believe that even law enforcement entities may not be able to censor these messages.
From the privacy point of view, therefore, it should work very well for users who desperately seek such channels of communications.
Briar Functions Out of the Tor Environment
Being a browser inherently used by dark web users, Tor is constantly under surveillance by government cybersecurity personnel.
Though their target may be to catch criminals engaged in unlawful trading of drugs, guns, counterfeit material and other such items online, you could end up being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Briar has introduced a feature where even if the Tor setup is brought down, you can still use the messaging service.
You can rely on a good Wi-Fi connection or use the Bluetooth to connect to another device and then send and receive your messages.
Some Alternative Channels Explored
The team that developed the Briar Messenger is fully aware of the fact that the service’s dependence on Tor might have to be moderated to a certain extent.
With this objective, they are currently working on making the messenger compatible with a plugin like I2P.
Some coding requirements may be written into the app before being made available as a regular app—so that in the event of Tor failing for some reason, the app can continue to operate.
Customers keep looking for such flexibilities and will welcome the provision.
Reports indicate that Briar has already gained some reputation as a darknet messenger.
However, it may be relevant to point out that the Tor browser also owns a messenger application called Tor Messenger, but there is no Android version of it yet.
It can only work on the Windows, Mac and Linux environments.