One thing most people do not realize is the fact that sending Instant Messages over the Internet is not secure. Every time you speak with someone you risk the chance of someone listening in on those conversations. Especially now a days with so many wireless networks hackers can easily join networks and grab all of the data off those networks. There is any easy way to encrypt your AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ by using a plugin for Trillian. You can also encrypt either one if not using Trillian which is briefly discussed below. Follow these steps to install Off-The-Record Proxy and configure Trillian to use it to encrypt your messages to other users who also have the software installed. The below steps were performed on a laptop running Windows XP Professional 32-Bit.
Install Trillian OTR On Windows XP:
- Download OTR Proxy: The Trillian plugin for OTR can be downloaded here.
- Unpack and Install: Visit the folder where OTR Trillian plugin was downloaded and extract the files. Then move the TrillianOTR.dll file to C:\Program Files\Trillian\plugins directory.
- Enable Plugin: Restart Trillian and in the menu at the top go to “Trillian >> Plugins” You will see a screen like this Check the box titled Trillian OTR and click close.
- Restart Trillian: Shutdown Trillian and restart it.
Next time you send a message a fingerprint key will be automatically generated and requested to the person you are contacting. Since most people do not have OTR installed it is best to go into the settings of OTR and turn off “Automatically initiate private messaging”. This can be done by going back into the Trillian Preferences, clicking on plugins, highlighting the OTR plugin, clicking change, clicking on OTR config, and uncheck “Automatically initiate private messaging”. Click apply and close and the setting will be saved.
Now when you want to initiate a private conversation all you have to do is open the chat window of the person you are going to chat with and click the new “Trillian OTR” menu and start click “Start Conversation”.
Off-The-Record Messaging which is considered a localhost proxy can currently only be used to encrypt messaging for AIM and ICQ but hopefully support will be added for other messengers in the future. IM security is extremelly important and the book below explains many other aspects of IM security in detail.
More information on OTR Messaging can be found here.