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Loki Messenger – Taking Private Messaging to a New Level

With ever-increasing threats to our online privacy, a secure, private messaging system is a virtual necessity. Unfortunately, all of our current systems are vulnerable in one way or the other. The world needs a genuinely secure private messaging system. In this article, we look at Loki Messenger, a secure private messaging system that has huge […]

Loki Messenger – Taking Private Messaging to a New Level was originally found on Blokt – Privacy, Tech, Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency.

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With ever-increasing threats to our online privacy, a secure, private messaging system is a virtual necessity. Unfortunately, all of our current systems are vulnerable in one way or the other. The world needs a genuinely secure private messaging system.

In this article, we look at Loki Messenger, a secure private messaging system that has huge privacy potential. Loki Messenger is the first service on Lokinet, a decentralized, end-to-end encrypted messaging and payments network.

Without going in too deep (Loki details get really technical, really fast), we’ll look at what makes Loki Messenger into a better private messaging service.

Once we get through that, we’ll give you a demonstration of the current beta version of Loki Messenger.route

Ready to learn about what could be the future of private messaging? Let’s start.

Introduction to Loki Messenger

So what exactly is Loki Messenger? According to the projects README file at GitHub:

“Loki Messenger allows for truly decentralized, end to end, and private encrypted chats. Loki Messenger is built to handle both online and fully Asynchronous offline messages. Loki Messenger implements the Signal protocol for message encryption. Our Client interface is a fork of Signal Messenger. All communication that passes through Loki messenger is routed through Lokinet.”
Loki Messenger

Loki Messenger

In other words, Loki Messenger takes advantage of some of the best existing private messaging technology and adds, even more privacy and security through its use of Lokinet.

Lokinet’s Service Nodes, “act as both federated servers which store messages offline, and a set of nodes which allow for onion routing functionality obfuscating users IP Addresses.”

What Makes Loki Messenger Better?

With competitors like Telegram, Viber, Signal, and WhatsApp, you might be wondering why the world needs another end-to-end encrypted, private messenger app. There are three big reasons why we think Loki Messenger has a shot at becoming the private messaging app of the future:

  • Loki Messenger is Decentralized
  • Loki Messenger is Untraceable
  • Loki Messenger is Hack Resistant

Loki Messenger is Decentralized

What do Telegram, Viber, Signal, and other leading encrypted private messaging apps have in common? They are all centralized. This means that there are central servers to hack, and even physical offices for the authorities to visit with subpoenas (and assault weapons) in hand when they want to snoop on someone.

Centralized vs. Decentralized

Centralization is a huge vulnerability. Here are some recent examples of the problem:

  • After the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the Sri Lankan government shut down access to Viber, SnapChat, WhatsApp, and other messaging services within the country. In all, this country has shut down messaging apps at least three times.
  • In June of 2019, the CEO of Telegram, Pavel Durov, said they experienced a “state actor-sized” cyber attack. Without revealing details, he indicated that the attack likely came from China and was related to the protests in Hong Kong.
  • While WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, according to this story and others, messages are stored unencrypted in the mobile app. Those unencrypted messages can also be backed up on cloud servers physically located in the United States (5 eyes country), where a simple subpoena can gain access. Adding to privacy fears, the WhatsApp Privacy Policy states that it can share data about you with Facebook, which purchased WhatsApp in 2014.

A decentralized messaging app has many advantages. Withou3mt a center, the network is resistant to attempts to shut it down (Think Torrenting, Bitcoin, Tor, etc.). Additionally, there is no one to wave that subpoena at, demanding that they turn over the data on some user.

Loki Messenger relies on Lokinet’s private and decentralized messaging services. The Lokinet network uses a chain of proxy servers connected by onion routing to pass messages. The state of the network is maintained in the Lokinet blockchain, making that information available to every user. The user chooses the route their messages will follow through the network, eliminating the need for a trusted (central) authority in the system.

Loki Messenger is Untraceable

Many messenger apps use end-to-end encryption to protect the messages that flow through them. But they can be vulnerable to adversaries powerful enough to monitor when messages enter and leave the network.

Over time, such an adversary can even do statistical analysis of the messages flowing through the network. Helping them to identify which users are communicating with each other, when certain users are online, and other potentially useful information.

Loki Messenger is Untraceable

Lokinet addresses this kind of problem by functioning as a mixnet communicating through onion routing. A mixnet passes messages through one or more mixes. A mix receives messages from multiple sources, then sends them on to their destinations in random order. Doing this makes it harder to analyze the flow of messages through the mixnet.

Lokinet connects the mixes in the network using onion routing. The onion routing protocols connect multiple mixes in a chain. Each mix only knows which node in the network sent a message to it, and which node in the network it must send the message to. Thus it ensures that no single mix knows both the original sender of a message and the final recipient.

Even if one of the mixes in the chain is compromised, there is no way for it to trace the entire route of the message.

In addition, Loki Messenger does not require the user to register with a telephone number, and a user’s real IP Address is never exposed to the network. Together, these features make the Loki Messenger untraceable (In theory).

Loki Messenger is Hack Resistant

While it is likely that no network in the world is totally hack-proof, Loki Messenger comes close, thanks to the characteristics of Lokinet. Lokinet uses Service Nodes to provide much of its scalability and networking functionality. Service nodes are paid for their services using Loki, the Lokinet’s native cryptocurrency. But Service Nodes must also stake a large amount of Loki for the privilege of being a Service Node.

Loki Messenger is Impervious to Hacking

The requirement of a large stake makes the type of hack called a Sybil attack, more unlikely. The Lokinet team defines a successful Sybil attack as one that seizes control of at least 30% of the entire Lokinet. To do this, an attacker would need to stake large amounts of Loki on each of the servers it controls. This would drive up the price of Loki, making the attack progressively more expensive.

In addition to the protection provided by Lokinet, Loki Messenger itself uses several techniques to prevent attacks. Deniable Authentication (DA) protects against man-in-the-middle attacks. Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) ensures that a new encryption key is used for each message, limiting the damage done if an attacker does somehow get access to a key. In such a case, the attacker would only be able to decode a single message.

Now we’re ready to take a look at Loki Messenger in action.

Note: Don’t forget that this is a project under active development, so what you see here reflects the state of the beta on September 25, 2019.

Creating a Loki Messenger Account

If you are familiar with cryptocurrencies, you may notice that creating a Loki Messenger account looks a lot like creating a cryptocurrency wallet:

Loki Messenger initial Registration Screen

The seed phrase is automatically generated by Loki Messenger and is necessary to recover your account if you lose access to it. Or if you move your Loki Messenger account to another device.

Once you register your seed, you create your optional username and password:

Create a Username and Password

Hit Save and you are ready to roll.

As you can see, the Loki Messenger window looks a lot like any other messenger app. It does, however, have a couple of differences.

Loki Messenger Main Window

First, notice the long random string of characters below the username on the top left. That is the user’s public key. Sharing this public key is how users connect. For maximum privacy, users would be advised to share these keys offline, preventing snoops from getting a copy of them.

Once a user has someone’s public key, they can send a friend request, which can be either accepted or declined:

Loki Friend Request

Online Messaging

If both parties are online, communication is relatively straightforward. Their messenger apps can resolve each other’s public keys and create an onion-routed path through Lokinet for live chatting. All without exposing their IP Address, telephone number, or any other personally identifiable information (PII).

Online Message

Messages appear in the chat window as you would expect.

If you hover over a message, a “three-dot” icon appears. Clicking that displays a menu of options for that specific message, as shown above.

Offline Messaging

Offline messaging, where the intended recipient of a message is not currently online, is more complicated. It depends on groups of Service Nodes called Swarms. Every Loki Messenger user belongs to a Swarm. Swarms are groups of Service Nodes that can store messages offline.

When a message gets sent to a user that isn’t online, the message gets stored (in encrypted form) on one or more of the Service Nodes in the recipient’s Swarm. When the user comes online, their copy of Loki Messenger queries any node in their Swarm to see if the Swarm is holding any messages for them. If so, the recipient’s copy of Loki Messenger downloads the messages.

If the recipient replies to a message, Loki Messenger then attempts to form a direct connection with the sender as normal.

Additional Features of Loki Messenger

Beyond the basic messaging features that we’ve already looked at, Loki Messenger has some additional features that you will like. They range from usability improvements to privacy enhancements, and include:

  • Disappearing Messages
  • Safety Numbers
  • Changing Username and Nicknames
  • Light / Dark Modes

Disappearing Messages

There are times when you want to send someone a message, but you don’t want it to be a permanent part of the conversation. This is where Disappearing Messages come into play.

Disappearing Messages

Clicking the gear icon in a chat window displays message options for that chat. One of the options in that menu is to set new messages in this chat to disappear after an interval, with options that range from off (turn off disappearing messages) to 5 seconds, up to one week.

After this, any messages will automatically disappear from your chat window and that of the recipient. Loki Messenger makes it clear at the top of the chat window if Disappearing Messages are active and how long they stay visible (See above image).

Safety Numbers

Safety numbers are a set of 12, 5-digit numbers that can be used to verify the security of the end-to-end encryption of the connection with another user.

If the safety numbers that appear in your app match those that appear in the other person’s app, the end-to-end encryption of the connection is secure.

Changing Username and Nicknames

Because Loki Messenger identifies users by their public keys instead of usernames, it allows you to change your username at any time.

Likewise, it allows you to change your nickname for someone you are friends with. This doesn’t affect their username but does change what name you see for them in your app.

I can see changing nicknames to be useful for identifying someone you don’t contact frequently. Changing the name you see in your app, from “Lashana Lynch” to “The New 007”, could make it easier to keep track of who you are talking to.

Light / Dark Modes

App developers are finally moving away from the light-colored text on a black background interface trend. Like many newer apps, Loki Messenger offers both a Light and a Dark mode. I’ve been using the default Light mode throughout this article; here’s what the Dark mode looks like:

Loki Messenger Dark Mode

This is easier on the eyes (my eyes, anyway) and seems like a good option for someone interested in privacy who wants to be a little more subtle while viewing messages.

Conclusion

While it is still too early to say that it will be the private messenger we all use in 2020. Loki Messenger packs a lot of privacy and security features into one package.

We’ll be watching the development of Loki Messenger as it works its way through beta. We’ll also be keeping an eye on the progress of Lokinet, which plans to offer several other privacy-related capabilities soon.

Bonus Tip: Enhance Your Privacy Further With a VPN

If you enjoyed this article and want to improve your privacy instantly, we recommend getting a good VPN service that lets you browse torrent websites and whatever you want, without leaving any logs. If you’re interested, check out our best VPN guide, or go right to our favorite Nordvpn.

For another perspective on Loki Messenger, check out this video:

References

Loki Messenger – Taking Private Messaging to a New Level was originally found on Blokt – Privacy, Tech, Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency.

Source: https://blokt.com/guides/loki-messenger-taking-private-messaging-to-a-new-level

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Bitcoin Derivatives Firm ErisX Adds Cash-Settled Contracts After Physically-Settled Futures Fall Flat

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Cryptocurrency derivatives platform ErisX launched cash-settled bounded futures on Tuesday, after seeing little interest from the market for its physically-settled futures

ErisX CEO Thomas Chippas said the company had released physically-settled futures thinking that traders would be interested in trading spot bitcoin with the protection of a futures exchange and a futures clearinghouse. Cash-settled contracts don’t require the delivery of bitcoin like physically-settled contracts, allowing investors who can’t touch bitcoin to still profit off of it.

Physically-settled futures won’t become more popular until the exchange can offer physically-traded futures on margin, Chippas said. ErisX is working with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to allow the exchange to offer margin in the future.

In the meantime, the exchange is launching cash-settled bounded futures, which provide upper and lower bounds on gains and losses, protecting investors from large price movements 

Last month, ErisX got CFTC approval to offer additional trading services.

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-derivatives-firm-erisx-adds-cash-settled-futures

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Bitcoin Tuesday aims to raise $1M for good causes today

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Bitcoin Tuesday, a crypto-based charity event hosted by The Giving Block, is looking to raise at least $1 million in donations today and over the rest of the month of December. The fundraising target makes Bitcoin Tuesday one of the largest crypto-based charity events ever. 

The Giving Block has secured partnerships with over 120 nonprofits and 30 blockchain companies to spearhead the charity drive.

Some of the biggest names in crypto will participate, including:

  • Gemini
  • Ledger
  • Blockfolio
  • Maker
  • Celsius Network
  • Flexa
  • 0x

Along with many other blockchain companies, they are stepping up to help charities collect Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrency donations before the holidays.

The charities accepting donations on Bitcoin Tuesday include:

  • Save The Children
  • American Cancer Society
  • WaterAid America
  • Foundation for Economic Education
  • Stack Up
  • Center for Policing Equity
  • No Kid Hungry

Bitcoiners are committed to social good, and this is one opportunity to make a practical difference beyond the choice to disrupt the financial system. It’s a chance to help Save The Children, or to promote justice before the law through the Center for Policing Equity.

Your donation could go toward Trees for the Future; fresh water in Uganda; providing meals for senior citizens, or finding homes for pets in rural America. There are over 100 charities participating, any of which will be grateful for your support.

The Giving Block tells Cointelegraph that Bitcoin Tuesday 2020 will see “1,000% growth in nonprofits accepting cryptocurrency donations.”

According to The Giving Block:

“All our charities accept more than just Bitcoin. Bitcoin is front and center, but you can donate every crypto currently supported on Gemini.”

They also believe that nonprofits themselves can aid crypto adoption by offering users the opportunity to donate via digital assets:

“Nonprofits adding crypto as an option across their website and platforms, calling for crypto gifts in their communications, posting about crypto on social media. This drives their mainstream audiences into the crypto scene which is invaluable.”

Cointelegraph is also participating in the event, and is working with The Giving Block to produce a charity Crypto Trivia quiz featuring top personalities in the blockchain space, to be held on Thursday Dec 10.

You can donate crypto to your favorite charity by visiting The Giving Block website. Select the organization you would like to support and pledge your crypto now for a good cause.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-tuesday-aims-to-raise-1m-for-good-causes-today

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World’s first tradable carbon token launched by Universal Protocol alliance

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The Universal Protocol Alliance [UPA] which included prominent blockchain companies like Bittrex Global, Ledger, CertiK, InfiniGold, and Uphold launched the Universal Carbon [UPCO2] on a public blockchain. It can be bought and held as an investment, or burnt to offset an individual’s carbon footprint.

According to the press release shared with AMBCrypto:

“… the UPCO2 Token is set to democratize an important new asset class, which could lead to the establishment of a global clearing price for carbon (as today exists for such commodities as oil and gold) and more resources going directly into environmental projects.”

One UPCO2 token represented a verified project in the rainforest reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by one metric ton annually. The alliance provided a digital certificate issued by Verra, an international standards agency, which allows certified projects to turn their greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions into tradable carbon credits.

The Chairman of the UP Alliance, Matthew Le Merle noted:

“The projects we support through carbon credit purchases prevent deforestation in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia as well as other threatened rainforests. For a new generation of investors looking for more than mere financial return, UPCO2 offers attractive social, economic and environmental benefits. At a key moment for climate change, UPCO2 allows people worldwide to do good for the planet and potentially do well for themselves.”

The voluntary carbon credits backing these carbon tokens should eventually fetch the same price anywhere, as per the Chairman. The logic behind this was that they represent, a metric ton of carbon per year, which is measured the same for any company seeking to offset its carbon footprint. The dollar-denominated, globally-recognized, fungible, and perennial assets should maintain their option value until consumption.

The chairman further concluded:

“Combine a digital asset with a rainforest carbon offset and give everyone in the world access. How could that not be a great idea?”

Source: https://eng.ambcrypto.com/worlds-first-tradable-carbon-token-launched-by-universal-protocol-alliance

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