How to chat securely using Pidgin and OTR

These days surveillance news are coming out frequently. After Snowden’s revelation if you’r suffering from paranoia and want to secure your digital presence, follow this tutorial to communicate securely.

  1. Install Pidgin chat client.
    • for ubuntu –
    • for arch linux –
    • also you can download it manually from here & then install it as per instructions
  2. Install OTR plugin of Pidgin.
    • for ubuntu –
    • for arch linux –
  3. Now start Pidgin. It will show ‘Accounts’ Popup. Click on ‘Add’ button. add
  4. Now you will get ‘Add Account’ popup.
    add-account-0
  5. Now configure new account as follows.
    • Tab ‘Basic’
      • Login Options
        • Protocol : XMPP (don’t use ‘Facebook XMPP’)
        • Username: (don’t use a username which will somehow connected to real you)
        • jabber.rayservers.com
        • leave blank
        • enter password you want
      • User Options
        • Local alias : Leave blank
        • New mail notifications : DO NOT check
        • Use this buddy icon : check if you want
        • Create this new account on the server : MUST checkadd-account-1
    • Tab ‘Advanced’
      • Connection security : Require Encryption
      • Allow plaintext auth over unencrypted streams : DO NOT check
      • Connect port : 5222
      • Show Custom Smileys : check
      • Create this new account on the server : MUST check add-account-2
    • Tab ‘Proxy’
      • Proxy type : Use Global Proxy Settings
      • Create this new account on the server : MUST check add-account-3
    • Tab ‘Voice and Video’
      • Use silence suppression : leave default
      • Create this new account on the server : MUST check add-account-4
  6. Now to add this new account, click on ‘Add’
  7. Wait for few seconds. Popup will come for ‘SSL Certificate Verification’. Click on ‘Accept’. Cross-check ‘Certificate Information’. Then ‘Accept’ cetificate. cert-1 cert-2
  8. Now you will get popup saying ‘Register New XMPP Account’. Click on ‘Register’.
  9. From top menus select
    Tools -> Plugins -> Off-The-Record Messaging (MUST checked)
  10. Click on ‘Configure Plugin’
  11. Configure ‘Off-the-record Messaging’ popup as follows, otr-1
    • My Private Keys –
      • Click on ‘Generate’ if you get message ‘No key present’. Generating keys takes time. When keys are getting generated try to do some CPU intensive work to add more entropy.
    • Default OTR Settings – Check all
      • Enable private messaging – check
      • Automatically initiate private messaging – check
      • Require private messaging – check
      • Don’t log OTR conversations – check
    • OTR UI Options
      • Show OTR button in toolbar – check
  12. Once key is generated, click on ‘Close’ to close popup windows of ‘Off-the-record Messaging’ & ‘Configure plugin’.
    otr-2
  13. Now in top window ‘Buddy List’ ,
    Tools -> Preferences -> Logging -> Do NOT check any options here & close popup. otr-4
  14. Now enable your new account as,
    Accounts -> Enable account -> Select newly created account
  15. Now to add buddy,
    Buddies -> Add buddy
  16. In ‘Add Buddy’ popup, enter ‘Buddy’s username’ – something like ‘foo@bar.qux.com’.  Optionally you can add ‘Alias name’ for ease. Here important thing to remember is, once you add buddy it will appear in your buddy list only after authorization of your buddy.
  17. Now if you add buddy successfully and he is online & double-click on buddy and start to chat.
  18. Here you will get another private messaging window. Don’t forget to ‘Start OTR’ here & to Authenticate your buddy.
  19. Further, you can use Tor with Pidgin to circumvent IP address.

Published by

Rohit Chormale

I am software engineer from Hyderabad, India with primary interests in distributed systems. In my leisure time, I love to read technical papers and hacking emacs.

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