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Peerio hands-on: This secure messaging suite packs dead simple end-to-end encryption

Ian Paul | Jan. 16, 2015
The brain behind Cryptocat and miniLock is back with yet another tool designed to make your day-to-day life more secure. Peerio, Nadim Kobeissi's latest creation, is a cloud-based, end-to-end encrypted communications suite that lets you send messages and share files as easily as you use Gmail or Skype's IM tool.

The brain behind Cryptocat and miniLock is back with yet another tool designed to make your day-to-day life more secure. Peerio, Nadim Kobeissi's latest creation, is a cloud-based, end-to-end encrypted communications suite that lets you send messages and share files as easily as you use Gmail or Skype's IM tool.

For now Peerio is free, but the company does plan to add paid features in the future, such as expanded storage, according to Wired. Users currently receive 1.3GB of free storage space.

Why this matters: Peerio is part of a new breed of encryption tools that are seeking to make secure messaging and file sharing easier. Encryption tools such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) have been notoriously difficult to use and really only open to power users. But in light of the Snowden revelations, many developers are stepping up to help provide tools that encrypt and protect your data without extra headaches — making it much more likely that you'll keep using them and convince others to do so as well.

Hands-on with Peerio

Peerio is currently available as a Chrome, Windows, and Mac programs; mobile Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows Phone apps are scheduled to follow. Once it's installed, you sign-up for Peerio by providing your name, email address, and selecting a user name. Then you'll be asked to create a passphrase — not a password. It has be much longer than you're probably used to creating, at more than 20 characters.

After that's done, you'll receive a confirmation code in your email. Login, enter your confirmation code, and you'll be asked to take one last step: creating a shorter, device-specific PIN that lets you log in quickly without the need to enter your longer password each time.

The sign-up process is arguably the hardest part of using Peerio. Once that's done you'll see a messaging suite with three tabs: Messages, Files, and Contacts.

Since this is an end-to-end encryption platform, you can only use it to send messages and files to other Peerio users. Adding a Peerio contact is very easy. Just click on the Contacts tab and then the blue Add contact button. Here, add your contact's Peerio username, or invite them to join the service by email or phone. After they accept, you'll be able to send them messages and share files.

Before you can share files with others, you must first add data to Peerio by either clicking the Upload Files button under the Files tab or through a simple drag-and-drop on any page. Files are then encrypted and uploaded to Peerio servers. To send them to others, just select the file, click the paper airplane icon to send it, enter the contact's name, and it's on its way.

 

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