Encrypted messaging: How to have a private conversation online

In this #BreadandNet2020 session, Simon Harman from the Loki Foundation —the creators of Session, an application for complete anonymity in the Internet—  teaches us how to use Session, including how to create an account, find people to message, and share your details safely.

Encrypted messengers have become extremely common over the last few years. Lots of us have Signal, Wire, WhatsApp, or Telegram installed on our phones — just to name a few. But encryption is only one part of the step. Are we truly safe when we chat using these apps? State-level actors have proven they have tactics for attacking these apps — signals surveillance, encryption-breaking regulation, and SIM-swapping attacks, are some examples. It is not the case for Session, which according to its developers makes data leakage and message tracking impossible even for government structures.

In this session, we learn about Session, a new private messenger which is secure and anonymous. Using a combination of encryption, onion routing, and the removal of phone numbers, Session helps protect against threats that other messengers can’t. Session users do not need a mobile phone number or email address to create an account in Session: keeping a nickname which will be used in correspondence is enough. Session, which is a fork of Signal application, does not collect your metadata, location information, IP addresses or any other data.

Finally, Simon Harman also shares some tips around building one’s own personal threat model for communication, and what other tools may be useful in conjunction with Session to communicate safely.


SMEX is a registered Lebanese NGO that works to advance self-regulating information societies in the Middle East and North Africa.