I’ve just finished reading the Bitmessage white paper by Jonathan Warren and must say I find myself inspired. BitMessage is the decentralized peer to peer communication system that uses basic encryption to keep both sender and receiver anonymous, if they choose. While Bitmessage is still very new, it is a potential game changer when it comes to secure communications. Living in a time where large data centers that can store all our private communications are a reality, BitMessage provides a degree of resistance. Here’s an overview of BitMessage as well as a quick tutorial on setting up the client.
An Overview Of Bitmessage
BitMessage uses a form of public key encryption to secure communications between two parties over the internet. As outlined in the Bitmessage white paper current solutions for encrypted email are difficult to use and require exchanging both an email address and encryption keys through a trusted third party.
With BitMessage a series of unique solutions are used to allow users to communicate with just a 36 character address. The protocol, loosely based off of Bitcoin, uses your computer’s processing power to process messages. Each message requires a proof of work that is designed to take around four minutes.
Another important feature of Bitmessage is the ability to broadcast messages or to subscribe to broadcasts. Broadcasts are messages that are sent out to any group of Bitmessage users that are listening. In this way, organizations or individuals can get information out to their subscribers anonymously if they choose. I’ve recently started to use Bitmessage’s broadcast feature for my recent posts and updates here on CryptoJunky.
Setting Up Bitmessage
Setting up BitMessage couldn’t be easier. If you’re a windows user click here for the .exe file. If you’re a Mac OS X or Linux user the python code is available through BitMessage.org. I’ll be covering the basics with Windows here, though it should be about the same with Mac OS X and Linux. Once you’ve opened up BitMessage you’ll need to create an ‘identity’ or two as they’re referred to.
Start by going to the ‘your identities’ tab and clicking ‘new’. You’ll see two options pop up, one that allows you to make a random number generator and another that uses a passphrase to make addresses. I suggest that you use a passphrase to make your address(es) as you will then be able to use these identities on another machine or another installation of BitMessage. If you choose this option you will also have a number of addresses to make, the default is eight.
Once you’ve decided on a passphrase go ahead and find a good place to store it or have something easily remembered. There is no recovery kit for lost BitMessage passwords. You’ll also need the address version number to replicate these addresses on another computer (I also record the Stream number).
Sending And Receiving Your First Message
So you have your client set up and you’d like to actually use this thing. Well if you’d like to send a test message you can send one to me and I’ll send one on back. Go to the ‘send’ tab of the BitMessage client and enter the following address in the ‘to’ field:
Once you’ve done that just choose one of your addresses to use as a ‘From’ address and fill in your test message. Once the message is complete click send. It will take a few minutes for the message to be processed and sent so don’t shut down BitMessage or your computer during that time.
If you’d like to try out the broadcast/subscription feature you can go to the ‘Subscriptions’ tab and click the add button. Enter the same address as above and you’ll receive the messages I send out when I have a decent new post or service to announce.
Given that BitMessage is still relatively young there aren’t too many communities for it yet. If you’re starting out now it’s like that you’re an early adopter. There is a BitMessage forum over at BitMessage.org. There is also a BitMessage subreddit over at Reddit under r/BitMessage. There’s a lot more that you can do with BitMessage than just what I’ve covered here so play around with it, explore, and let me know what you find!
That’s all I have for now on BitMessage. If you have a story or tip related to BitMessage, Bitcoin, or Encryption send me a BitMessage at BM-2DBXxtaBSV37DsHjN978mRiMbX5rdKNvJ6 or you can send me an email at CryptoJunky at zoho dot com.