Session messenger is a free, open-source, E2E encrypted, and cross-platform fork of the popular private messenger Signal.
Signal is seen as the current gold standard when it comes to private messaging. However, this popularity doesn’t come with a fair share of criticism. The biggest one is that Signal requires a phone number to work.
Session messenger aims to fix this and minimize the amount of sensitive metadata you share.
To create an account on Session messenger, you won’t need a phone number, email address, or anything of sorts.
Instead, Session messenger generates a random and unique Session ID which you can share with contacts.
Session messenger uses blockchain and crypto tech to protect its user anonymity and is decentralized, which makes the messenger resistant to Sybil attacks.
The Oxen blockchain gives Session its network of Service Nodes, and the Oxen crypto gives the network its market-based Sybil resistance properties — solving a crucial problem that many other decentralised networks continue to struggle with. Session, the Oxen blockchain network, and the Oxen cryptocurrency are three crucial pieces of the online privacy puzzle, and they create a network that’s much more than the sum of its parts.
On top of everything, Session messenger sends your traffic through an Onion router ( the same principle behind Tor ) which eliminates the central servers that Signal has.
On a decentralized network, users can’t be banned or otherwise targeted because no controlling authority could target them.
If the decentralized network is using onion routing, users are completely anonymous, adding another layer of censorship resistance to the network.
Why should Session Messenger be trusted?
Conversations in Session are end-to-end encrypted, just as in most private messengers. However, when you use Session, the identities of the people communicating are also protected. Session keeps communications private, secure, and anonymous.
When using Session, your messages are sent to their destinations through a decentralized onion routing network similar to Tor, using a system called onion requests.
Onion requests protect user privacy by ensuring that no single server ever knows a message’s origin and destination.
Session’s code is open-source and can be independently audited at any time. Quarkslab performed a security audit of Session, and the results can be found here.
How to get started with Session Messenger
Getting started with Session is super easy. However, it might initially seem a bit strange to some “new to privacy” users.
Luckily there’s a step-by-step video on how to get started with Session messenger. Check it out below.
There’s a catch: if you try to activate voice and video calls on Session messenger, it will warn you that your IP address will get exposed.
Calls in Session are end-to-end encrypted. However, unlike messages (which use onion-routed networking), the current implementation of calls uses peer-to-peer networking.
This means your IP will be shared with your call partner and an OPTF-operated STUN/TURN server.
Although this is acceptable for most people, you should always assess your personal situation to determine whether the risk of exposing your IP is worth it.
This will change in the future when Session implements Lokinet – a powerful onion router that is fast enough to handle real-time end-to-end encrypted voice calls without relying on central servers.
How to install Session Messenger
As mentioned before, Session messenger is cross-platform. Whether you use iOS ( iPhone and iPad ) or Android, macOS, Linux, or Windows, you can use Session Messenger.
Android users can install Session Messenger from Google Play, F-Droid or download it as an .apk.
Session messenger for Linux comes as an .AppImage. While Session for Mac and Windows comes as a .dmg respectively .exe packages.
You can download Session Messenger for your platform here.