What is it?
Talaria is a multi-platform chat application designed to allow you to chat to your friends, family, associates, colleagues, college mates safely and securely. It does two important things, it makes sure you know you’re talking to who you think you are, nobody can pretend they are someone they’re not and nobody else can read your messages. Not criminals, not eavesdroppers, snooping, not us. Nobody, and we’ll prove it to you.
How does it do that?
Talaria uses industry standard encryption, like the stuff that protects your book purchases from Amazon, your bidding on that perfect antique butter knife on ebay or your online grocery shop from Sainsburys or Walmart or Kaufland or Easyday or wherever to wrap up your messages so that only the intended recipients can read them.
No really, how does it do that?
For the technical discussion of the protocol here or register in the comments your interest and we’ll ping you when we start explaining it on this blog in more detail.
How will it operate?
We’ll ship the application on four platforms, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry to start with. We’re running this in the cloud (AWS at the moment). This means we can scale this up from 100 users to a 100 million users and beyond at the flick of a switch but keep our running costs as low as possible, we’re not in this for the money.
How much will it cost?
We’re not sure yet, but probably free at first and then some nominal fee like a £1 a year to be able to run and build it. The more people that use and pay for it, the less we’ll probably be able to charge as we get discounts on computers when we use lots of them!
This is because of the whole Edward Snowdon thing right?
Well, not really. This project kicked off as an exercise as a potential degree project at the start of the year. Back then it was something interesting to work on, to provide a channel where people could chat safely in the knowledge that nobody could read their messages, swap bank account details, discuss their love lives, but not something that people really wanted or perhaps really needed. For the better people are starting to think about their right to privacy, and it is a right. It seems things like Talaria are just what people are asking for.
When will it be ready?
Soon, really soon. As soon as the first mobile application is done. If we get the funding to kick the development into high gear, maybe the next month or so. The protocol (the hard part), the first example chat application and the server are all written and “chatting” to each other, now, today.
Will it be open source?
The important part, the protocol will be. The nuts and bolts of how the app talks to other apps will be. We hope that people will pick this apart and we’re already in search of peer review. We intend to ship the protocol description and the tools to run against our servers soon for people to have at. The other parts we’ll need to wait and see.
How do I know it’s secure?
The system is designed so that you can capture all the traffic, and with the your encryption keys decrypt all the messages. That will allow security researchers, or anyone interested to examine in detail how the thing works, if we’ve gotten wrong, you’ll hear about it.
Do you store the messages on your server?
Yes, until they are delivered to the recipient or if you haven’t picked them up (and don’t intend to) and ask us to destroy them, say if you’re worried someone has gotten hold of your phone.
We’ve got literally a ton if ideas. Once you’ve got this in your pocket we can start doing some clever things to protecting your email, your facebook account, helping you log onto websites, using near field communications to protect your phone, all sorts. Talaria is literally the tip of the iceberg to giving you back control of your online privacy and security.
The winged sandals of the Greek Messenger God, Hermes.