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[liberationtech] Cryptocat: Adopting Accessibility and Ease of Use as Security Properties

Nadim Kobeissi nadim at
Mon Jun 24 07:07:27 PDT 2013

Today, with Cryptocat nearing 65,000 regular users, the Cryptocat project releases “Cryptocat: Adopting Accessibility and Ease of Use as Security Properties,” a working draft which brings together the past year of Cryptocat research and development.

We document the challenges we have faced, both cryptographic and social, and the decisions we’ve taken in order to attempt to bring encrypted communications to the masses.


Give it a read, and please share it with people who might be interested. Feedback and discussion are welcome.

Excerpt from the introduction follows.


Cryptocat is a Free and Open Source Software (FL/OSS) browser extension that makes use of web technologies in order to provide easy to use, accessible, encrypted instant messaging to the general public. We aim to investigate how to best leverage the accessibility and portability offered by web technologies in order to allow encrypted instant messaging an opportunity to better permeate on a social level. We have found that encrypted communications, while in many cases technically well-implemented, suffer from a lack of usage due to their being unappealing and inaccessible to the “average end-user”.

Our position is that accessibility and ease of use must be treated as security properties. Even if a cryptographic system is technically highly qualified, securing user privacy is not achieved without addressing the problem of accessibility. Our goal is to investigate the feasibility of implementing cryptographic systems in highly accessible mediums, and to address the technical and social challenges of making encrypted instant messaging accessible and portable.


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