Imagine you’re Edward Snowden with a Facebook profile. You text an ace reporter at the Guardian and have a new bit of information to share: you totally found a great new coffee place in the heart of Moscow where the CIA can’t poison you with thallium. How do you send that news securely over Facebook Messenger?
Crypter is the answer. Created by a Max Mitchell, a student at Sussex University, the app enables encrypted chat over Facebook messenger. It is a plugin for Chrome and Firefox and works by encrypting the communications with an agreed-upon password and decrypting it on the fly in the browser.
“We had an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude, in designing Crypter,” said Mitchell. “Instead of inviting users to join a brand new chat application we decided to apply it to an already established one – Facebook. And at the same time making sure that we don’t interrupt with our users existing habits.”
“The application basically sits silently in your conversations and works efficiently when you want to use it,” he said.
There are still a few bugs – an effort to initiate a super secret conversation didn’t go as planned – but feel free to try it with me if you’d like. A seamless chat, plugin-based encryption scheme is pretty compelling especially given the relatively insecure nature of Facebook. However, unless it’s really easy and seamless I’d have a hard time trusting my secret tiramisu recipe to any service. Mitchell has created something that is nearly invisible and seems like it might be a good one-off solution to secure communications between friends, reporters, and secret dessert lovers.