The Tor Project, the non-profit organization that develops software to protect online privacy, is launching a messaging client for Windows, Linux and OS X. The client will be based on the InstantBird messenger and a first build should be ready by the end of March.
The existence of the so-called Tor Instant Messaging Bundle, abbreviated to Timb, was made public in February during the Tor 2014 Winter Developers Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. Documentation shows that the developers plan to enable encrypted off-the-record communications in the future. This support will not be available in the first build, but communication will already be via the Tor network. Until 2011, the program Pidgin was used in the so-called Tor IM Browser Bundle, but that turned out not to be safe enough.
Although chat programs like TorChat and BitMessage already use the Tor network and enjoy quite a bit of popularity among Tor network users, that probably won’t be an obstacle for Timb. The secure chat program should eventually be bundled with the Tor Browser Bundle launcher, which will probably help the program’s notoriety a lot.
Tor is a global network of nodes and its setup makes it difficult to track the location and activity of the user. The Tor Browser Bundle includes the software that controls communication over the network and a modified version of Firefox.