Encrypted messaging and file storage app Peerio goes open beta

Canada-base Peerio has released the beta version of an app of the same name which combines secure messaging, file sharing and storage, and adds encryption to it.

Peerio is developed by a team of people that includes Nadim Kobeissi, the 24-year-old creator of the (in)famous Cryptocat app and well-known proponent of easy-to-use encryption.

The app is currently available for Windows and Mac users, as well as a Chrome plugin. The company plans on delivering mobile versions of the app soon.

As with Cryptocat and Minilock, Kobeissi’s main goal is to make the encryption seamless. But this time, in order to prevent incidents like the one that included a critical vulnerability affecting the confidentiality of group chats via Cryptocat, a third-party audit of the code was performed by German security firm Cure53, which found no crypto bugs.

Other researchers are also welcome to analyze the app’s open source code, which can be found on Github.

Peerio offers end-to-end encryption of the files’ and messages’ content, but not of the metadata. The files and messages can only be viewed by the sender and the recipient(s) – the company has no access to them. They also don’t have access to the decryption keys.

With PGP, users are required to keep the file with their private key safe but on hand: they need it to decrypt messages they receive, but many – if not all – aim to keep it safe from snoopers.

With Peerio, users will have to choose and memorize a complex passphrase that will be used to generate the users’ private key each time they log in. These keys “disappear” each time the app is shut down.

This is only the beginning. The app’s functionality and its encryption will be tested in the weeks and months to come by users and security researchers, and time will tell if they’ll find it wanting. In the meantime, anyone can try it out, but it’s a good idea not to use it to send and receive confidential information just yet.

“I think people doing something like leaking state secrets should not depend on the internet at all, personally,” Kobeissi commented for Gigaom. “But I would say that Peerio can protect the content of people’s communications, even if they’re operating from a highly surveilled context.”

For now, the Peerio app is free for everyone, but eventually users who want premium features will have to pay for them.

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