BitTorrent announced a private alpha for its secure instant messaging system back in October and now the company is detailing exactly how it will work. In an attempt to keep users completely anonymous, BitTorrent Chat will use cryptographic key pairs instead of the traditional user name. This means two users will have to share their random cryptographic keys in order to chat.
So what happens if your public chat key is exposed? In case of a security breach, BitTorrent chat will not reveal any previous chat history nor will they be able to access your future chats if you change your crypto key. Every conversation will generate a temporary encryption key it makes sure chats stay secure.
What makes BitTorrent Chat so secure is that it cuts out the middle-man server, which stores your data. Chat services like Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts store your information on company servers so a data breach at a company could expose your data. Even the self-destructing messaging service, Snapchat, stores some of your data on their servers. BitTorrent Chat avoids this by getting rid of storing anything on any server. Instead, BitTorrent will use a Distributed Hash Table (DHT), which searches IPs directly without the need for a server.
“In essence, the DHT is a web of peers cooperating. You ask your closest neighbor if they know of the person you are looking for. You then ask their neighbors, and their neighbors’ neighbors, and so on. Eventually, you’ll get to a peer (neighbor) who knows the address of the person you’re looking for. They return this address to you. This is done in such a way that only you know who you are looking for. (The person you are looking up would also know.)”
BitTorrent Chat is still in private alpha but you can sign up to be notified when an opening is available. The company still hasn’t released a timetable about when Chat will be hitting open alpha or beta.