It seems like every month that a new IM service appears promising to deliver security and anonymity in response to the increasingly common thefts of passwords and data stored online. This story will be repeated constantly as long as client-server architectures continue to be used. Luckily, the people at BitTorrent have shaken up the paradigm by launching Bleep, a messaging service for Windows, Mac, and Android where the connection is made directly between devices without storing any sort of login details or metadata on remote servers.
No matter how much apps like Telegram calls themselves secure, we’ve already seen that this can’t be the case. No remote system is invulnerable, which is why the best and most obvious solution to this problem is to locally store your information and send it directly to the destination device. And what better technology than P2P to set up a messaging service like that?
Bleep is not your typical communication tool. It won’t let you receive messages if you’re not connected and its login system is a bit confusing, but in return you get complete, rock-solid privacy for all data you send since it doesn’t go through any remote server beyond the network nodes through which it’s passed in a distributed transmission. In fact, the name of the service is what BitTorrent says is the only thing it receives every time someone uses the client—that is, a bleep.
Bleep’s own developer explains in detail how the app works here. Registering on Bleep doesn’t require your personal data, and the authentication system only sends data to BitTorrent servers when you confirm your credentials by phone or e-mail. The really peculiar thing is that if you have the app installed on, for example, Windows, and you want to activate your account on the Android version, it will offer you the option to do so via a QR code generated by the program itself. Thus you’re not sending any data outside the app.
To send the information, distributed hash tables with a large number of nodes are used. Human translation: it’s really difficult for an attacker to try to steal info you send or receive as it is encrypted and divided as it travels in many pieces that take several different paths.
Bleep has clients for Windows, Mac, and Android. In all cases it’s possible to create a list of contacts based on your address book if you’re using a smartphone. For the contact search you can use a phone number or an email address, and the recipient will get an invitation within the app or a message suggesting they install it if they don’t have it already.
Besides normal text messages, Bleep lets you make VoIP calls from the tool itself, allowing you to use all its ‘cross-platform’ features. That is, you can make a call from a smartphone and the other user can receive it on a desktop computer. And it has no calling cost whatsoever as it uses the data network you’re connected to.