A marriage of an updated version of the popular Ricochet anonymous contact service with the digital security expertise from the renowned whistleblower and journalist advocacy group Blueprint for Free Speech in Melbourne will have a pre-release launch, offering users further protection from hackers and government trackers.
The new Ricochet Refresh is the only desktop free software that is anonymizing AND confidential – “Using Tor and encryption is an important tool for journalists,” said Blueprint Executive Director Dr. Suelette Dreyfus, a specialist in cybersecurity technologies and integrity systems that work as corrective mechanisms in society.
“We believe software like Ricochet is important to protect freedom of expression for whistleblowers, activists, and journalists worldwide,” she added.
With journalists under siege around the world, facing government surveillance as well as growing harassment, threats, prison and worse, Ricochet Refresh offers a safer way to communicate.
The goal is to have them download the application and use it as the primary way to connect with each other and avoid the kind of dangers seen in Australia and the United States, where police have raided journalists homes and offices looking for the sources of stories about government secrets that used leaked information.
This is the first critical updating of Ricochet in three years and includes a newer version as well of the Tor network to reach contacts without relying on messaging servers, creating a hidden service used to rendezvous without revealing a location or IP address.
With more governments seeking to force services such as WhatsApp to let their law enforcement and intelligence services listen in, services like Ricochet become all the more important.
In Ricochet, everything is encrypted end-to-end, so only the intended recipient can decrypt it. In addition, the service is anonymized, adding another layer of safeguarding.
The use of hidden services prevents network traffic from leaving the Tor network, preserving anonymity and complicating passive network surveillance. It’s a portable application, users do not need to install any software as it connects automatically to Tor.
For now, it is available in Mac OS X and Linux and soon for Windows users. It is an open-source project to allow private and anonymous instant messaging that is:
• Metadata-resistant: nobody knows who you talk to or what you say
• Anonymous: none of your contacts know your location or IP address
• Decentralized: there are no servers to trust, monitor, or hack
• Easy-to-use: your messages are automatically secure and private
Refreshing Ricochet is a big project and we can’t do this alone. If you’re an open source developer, we want you to help us continue to update and improve Ricochet Refresh.
You can contribute to our GitHub repository, whether that’s with code, by alerting us to bugs you’ve found, or your suggestions for new features.
Blueprint for Free Speech is a charity that provides research and analysis in support of freedom of expression for all people, as described the UN Declaration of Human Rights with a mission to protect free speech, an independent media, freedom of information, transparency, and support for whistleblowers and journalists and exposing corruption.