Protect your Privacy and Freedom with Session: A Free Onion-powered Messenger


Privacy is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Unfortunately, It's hard to find privacy-focused applications that really consider its users. Our topic today is about one of this rare privacy-focused app: Session. So what's Session?

Session: A Privacy-First Messenger

Session in action (src. getsession.org)

The Session messenger is an end-to-end messenger application designed for people who value their security and privacy.

Unlike many messengers applications out there, It does not require a phone number, collect data, or leave messages footprints at the server.

Session sends the messages through a private onion routing network which ensures more security.

It also comes with features required in any nowadays messenger apps like messages search, group chat and attachments support. We will list all of its features in this article so stay tuned.

The messages are encrypted and stored by swarms. They will be deleted after a fixed amount of time and they can be only encrypted by a private key stored on the user's local machine.

Who built it?

The Session project is built, maintained, and managed by the Loki function, a non-profit organization based in Australia, and focuses on building privacy-first applications.

The Loki Foundation's aim is to create an untraceable and secure transaction and communication tools to empower internet user's freedom.

What's Session messenger alternative to?

Let's start with Telegram and WhatsApp which require phone number as an identifier for the user's account. Session does not require any phone number or email to register and start using it. It also uses Onion routing to make the messege untraceable.

Why you should consider using Session?

  1. Anonymous account
  2. Decentralized messaging  
  3. IP Protection
  4. End-to-end encryption

Supported platforms: All!

Session is available for almost all major desktop platforms like Linux, Windows, macOS. It offers many installation options for Linux.  It has AppImage, Flatpak, and Snap packages which means it runs on Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat, openSUSE, Arch Linux, and more.

I am using Manjaro Linux (an Arch Linux based distro) as my primary Linux desktop system. Session desktop has a client AUR package for Arch Linux based distributions. It outperformed Session desktop client on Snap, Flatpak, and AppImage packages.

I also use an Android phone and an iPhone regularly and Session came to my aid.

Features

  • Decentralized server network
  • Anonymous account: No phone number or email needed to create a Session ID
  • IP address protection
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Supports all popular platform (Linux, Windows, macOS)
  • Supports iOS and Android devices
  • Highly encrypted
  • Lightweight
  • Offers a standalone APK package for android devices
  • Attachment support
  • Emoji support
  • Voice note and voice snippets attachment
  • Dark mode support
  • Group chat
  • Message search
  • Multiple languages support: English, German, Spanish, Italian, Persian, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Portuguese.
  • Data sync across devices

Install Session Messenger

1- Linux

Session is available in Snapcraft.io store as a SNAP package, FLATHUB as FlatPak package and AppImage package. So it's it runs on all Linux Distributions.

Session desktop client on Manjaro software store

Install from Snapcraft store package

sudo snap install session-desktop

Install from Flathub.org store (Flatpak)

  • install

flatpak install flathub network.loki.Session

  • run
flatpak run network.loki.Session

If you are using Arch Linux based distro like Manjaro, You have an additional option: as an AUR package.

Session AUR packages for Arch Linux and Manjaro Linux
Session AUR packages for Arch Linux and Manjaro Linux

2- macOS

Session is available as an application package for macOS. It works smoothly on OSX 10.11 El Capitan, macOS 10.12 Sierra, macOS 10.13 High Sierra, macOS 10.14 Mojave and macOS 10.15 Catalina.

3- Windows

The Windows executable package can be installed on many version for Windows and it works fight with low system resources at Windows 10 and Windows 8.

4- Android

While Session is listed on Google's Play store,  with impressive download statistics, the developer also offers an APK version for users who don't like to install their apps through Google's Play store.  

Session for android supports from Android 5.0 and above, which means it's supposed to work on almost all current usable Android devices. However, it requires some high specifications like a high processor to get a smooth user experience on old android devices.

Sadly Session is not available on the F-Droid store. So if you install the APK file you need to update the app manually.

5- iOS; iPhone

iPhone users are lucky as they can install Session iOS mobile client with one click through Apple's AppStore. Sessions App Store's page is displaying good reviews and ratings written by Session's iOS users.
Session's iOS Requires iOS 12.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Session is suitable for:

  1. Journalists
  2. Doctors
  3. Patients
  4. Lawyers

Session for journalists

Journalists are often required to use secure untraceable communication with their sources. Session is a perfect option because of its security and privacy-aware features like an anonymous account, no registration required, and end-to-end encryption.

It also uses onion routing which is proven to be the best option to maintain their source anonymity and privacy.

Session for Healthcare

Doctor-doctor communication and doctor-patient communication are required to be secure and private by default and Session is a suitable answer for that.

Beyond it's underplaying sophisticated encryption as utilizing onion protocol and end-to-end encryption, it's easy to install and use with no additional configuration required.

Session's simplicity and usability are the main reasons why we recommend it for patient-doctor communication.

License

Session is an open-source project that is released under GPL-3.0.

Conclusion

The Session Project is by far the most secure messenger that respects user's privacy. It's secure-by-design as it has end-to-end encryption and no-footprint policy, uses onion routing to make the messages untraceable, and supports anonymous accounts.

Nonetheless, it's a completely free open-source app to use with no advertisement, in-app purchases, or hidden fees.

Resources


Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels






Hamza Mu Author: Hamza Mu

A physician with programming skills, Linux user since late 1990s, Open source supporter. Coding with Python, NodeJS (Meteor, VueJS, Express, D3, PhantomJS), SmallTalk & R language.





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