Jitsi for Windows – Secure Instant Messaging and VoIP

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 7:55 am

Posted10 August 2016

Jitsi is cross-platform, free and open-source software client that supports Instant Messaging (IM), voice and video chat over the internet. It supports many of the most popular and widely used IM and telephony protocols, including Jabber/XMPP (used by Facebook and Google Talk), AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and the SIP Voice-over-IP (VoIP) protocol. It supports additional independent encryption for IM through the OTR (Off-the-Record) protocol and for voice and video sessions through ZRTP and SRTP.

Jitsi is cross-platform, free and open-source software client for Instant Messaging (IM), Voice over IP (VoIP) and video chat. It is compatible with many popular IM and telephony protocols, including Jabber/XMPP, Facebook Messenger, AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and SIP. It provides end-to-end encryption for text chats through the Off-the-Record (OTR) protocol. It also supports end-to-end encrypted voice chat using ZRTP over SIP, though it tends to be somewhat unstable when used in this way.

Important: If you and those with whom you communicate use OTR encryption for text chats and ZRTP encryption for voice calls, Jitsi will protect the content of your conversations from service providers like Google and Facebook. However, these providers can still monitor certain metadata about the conversations you have through Jitsi. Examples include:

They can share this information with third parties, including other companies and governments. For conversations where such metadata could be sensitive, you and those with whom you communicate should consider using a trusted, independent service provider for your XMPP/Jabber chats and SIP calls.

Jitsi allows you to communicate securely through your existing accounts by using end-to-end encryption. This not only makes the content of your communication inaccessible to various third parties, such as government or corporate surveillance platforms, but it also protects your conversations from those who operate the chat services themselves (such as Facebook, if you are using Facebook Messenger, or Google, if you are using Google Talk).

Note: Jitsi was written in the Java programming language. As such, Java must be installed on your computer in order for it to work. Though Java itself does not represent a significant security risk, Java browser extensions are often found to contain vulnerabilities that allow malicious websites to install malware or assume control of your computer. If your browser has a Java plugin installed, we strongly recommend that you disable it.

Jitsi is available for MS Windows, GNU Linux and Mac OS. It can be used to communicate with other XMPP or SIP clients that support end-to-end encryption through OTR (for text chat) or ZRTP (for voice calls). Examples are recommended below:

To install Jitsi, follow the steps below:

Step 1. Browse to the Jitsi download page: https://jitsi.org/Main/Download

Figure 1: The Jitsi download page

Step 2. Scroll down and click [Microsoft Windows Installers] to download Jitsi.

Figure 2: Downloading the Jitsi package

Step 3. Right-click on the downloaded Jitsi file and select [Open], as illustrated below:

Figure 3: Opening the downloaded Jitsi file

Step 4. Click [Next] to start installing Jitsi on your computer.

Figure 4: Jitsi Setup Wizard

Step 5. Read Jitsi's License Agreement and check [I accept the terms in the License Agreement].

Figure 5: Jitsi End-User License Agreement

Step 6. Click [Next] to proceed with the installation process.

Step 7. Click [Next] to install Jitsi to the default folder. Alternatively, click [Change...] to select the folder you would like to install Jitsi to.

Figure 6: Jitsi installation destination folder

Step 8. Select shortcuts, settings and associated protocols through the following window and click [Next]. The default settings here are fine.

Figure 7: Jitsi Setup Wizard Addtional Tasks

Step 9. Click [Install] to install Jitsi on your computer.

Figure 8: Installation of Jitsi

Wait while Jitsi gets installed.

Figure 9: Installing Jitsi

Step 10. Click [Finish] to complete the installation process.

Figure 10: Completing the installation process of Jitsi

Jitsi supports many different protocols and services for chat. The first time you launch it, you will see the window shown in Figure 1, which allows you to add the accounts you want to access through Jitsi.

Figure 1: Jitsi's initial account configuration screen

Note: Both Google Talk and Facebook may require that you change certain account settings before you can access their chat services through Jitsi. To learn how, see the following two sections:

You can use this screen to enter a username and password for each of the services displayed, thereby adding up to four accounts in one easy step. But you must already have accounts on these services to do so. The sections below describe how to set up accounts for various IM and VoIP service providers.

As shown in Figure 1 of the previous section, the first time you launch Jitsi, you will see an account configuration screen that allows you to add various chat services to the application. After you have added at least one account, this screen will no longer appear. In order to add additional accounts, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click [File] in Jitsi's menu bar and select [Add new account...] to choose the service or protocol you want to use.

Figure 1: Adding a new account

Step 2. Select [Google Talk] from the Network list.

Figure 2: Selecting Google Talk

Step 3. Type your Google username and passphrase.

Figure 3: Entering a Google username and password

Step 4. (Optional) Uncheck the Remember password box

Important: If you want Jitsi to remember your passphrases for you, you should first enable its Master Password feature.

Step 5. Click [Add].

You can now use Jitsi to communicate through the Google Talk account you have added.

Note: If you are using 2-step verification to protect access to your Gmail account, you might see an error like the one shown in Figure 4 when Jitsi tries to access your account. (It will display the same error if you get your passphrase wrong.) To log in using Jitsi, you will need to generate an "application-specific password". To learn how, see Google's instructions.

Figure 4: Google Talk authentication failed (possibly as a result of "2-step verification" settings)

There are two settings that you might need to change, on the Facebook website, for Jitsi to use Facebook as a chat service.

Facebook Username

Before Jitsi can connect to Facebook, you must assign a username to your Facebook account. Unlike most Web services, Facebook does not require you to select a username when you create your account, but it does allow you to create one if you wish. You can confirm your username by signing into your Facebook account. Your username is what appears in the location bar of your browser after https://www.facebook.com/ when you view your Timeline or Page. So, if your username is elena.s.katerina, you should see https://www.facebook.com/elena.s.katerina in your browser's location bar when viewing your Timeline. Your username is also part of your Facebook email address (elena.s.katerina@facebook.com, for example).

If you do not have a Facebook username, you can choose one by signing into your account and selecting Settings > General or by browsing to https://www.facebook.com/username. Facebook might require that you verify your account before allowing you to select a username. This might require giving Facebook a mobile phone number at which you can receive a text message. For more details see Facebooks explanation of usernames.

App Settings

You must turn on Facebooks application platform in order to give Jitsi access to your account. To do this, sign in, select Settings > Apps and confirm that the Apps, Websites and Plugins setting is Enabled.

Note: Turning on Facebooks application platform opens up much of your Facebook data to third-party application developers. This data is available not only to the Facebook applications that you use, but also to the Facebook applications used by your friends. After turning on Facebooks Apps, Websites and Plugins, be sure to check the settings under Apps others use. This setting allows you to hide some personal information from applications used by your friends. Unfortunately, Facebook does not offer settings to hide all personal information. As long as the application platform is Enabled, certain categories of data (including your friend list, your gender, and any information you have made public) are accessible to apps used by others. If this is unacceptable, you should disable Apps, Websites and Plugins and avoid using Jitsi with Facebook Messenger.

Once you have chosen a Facebook username and enabled the application platform, you can add your Facebook account to Jitsi.

As shown in Figure 1 of the Add accounts to Jitsi section, the first time you launch Jitsi, you will see an account configuration screen that allows you to add various chat services to the application. After you have added at least one account, this screen will no longer appear. In order to add additional accounts, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click [File] in Jitsi's menu bar and select [Add new account...] to choose the service or protocol you want to use.

Figure 1: Adding a new account

Step 2. Select [Facebook] from the Network list.

Figure 2: Selecting Facebook

Step 3. Type your Facebook username and password.

Figure 3: Entering a username and password into the Add New Account screen

Step 4. (Optional) Uncheck the Remember password box.

Important: If you want Jitsi to remember your passphrases for you, you should first enable its Master Password feature.

Step 5. Click [Add].

You can now use Jitsi to communicate through the Facebook account you have added.

XMPP and Jabber are different names for the same instant messaging protocol. It is an open standard, and there are many providers who offer free Jabber/XMPP accounts that you can use with Jitsi. The IM Observatory allows you to evaluate some security properties of public Jabber/XMPP services.

If you have experience running online services, you can also install a Jabber/XMPP server (such as ejabberd or Prosody IM) on your own server and provide accounts to members of a particular community or organization.

Below, we recommend a few services that have a great deal of experience protecting their users' privacy.

Note: Even if you trust your service provider, It is still important that you use OTR encryption to keep your instant messages confidential. So make sure that you and those with whom you communicate know how to use it properly. This is covered in the section on Using Jitsi for secure instant messaging

The Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hosts a free Jabber service. Their servers are located in Germany. From within Jitsi, you can simultaneously create an account on jabber.ccc.de and add it to Jitsi. This works for many traditional Jabber/XMPP services.

Step 1. Click [File] in Jitsi's menu bar and select [Add new account...] to choose the service or protocol you want to use.

Figure 1: Add new accounts

Step 2. Select [XMPP] from the Network list.

Figure 2: Selecting XMPP

The steps below assume that you do not yet have a jabber.ccc.de account. (If you do, just enter your username and passphrase and click [Add].)

Step 3. Select [Create a new XMPP account].

Figure 3: Creating a new jabber.ccc.de account, within Jitsi, using the Add New Account screen

Step 4. Type [jabber.ccc.de] in the Server box.

Step 5. Choose a username and type it into the XMPP username box.

Step 6. Choose a passphrase and type it into the Password and Confirm Password boxes.

Step 7. Click [Add] to request the username you have chosen.

If the username you requested is unavailable, the registration process will fail, and Jitsi will announce that it: failed to create your account due to the following error: Could not confirm data. You can try again by repeating the process with a different username.

If you do not log in to your jabber.ccc.de account for 12 months, your account will be removed, and your username will be made available for registration by others.

Riseup is a collective dedicated to providing secure services for individuals and organizations committed to political and social justice. Their servers are located in the United States.

If you already have a Riseup.net email account, you can use the same account for their Jabber/XMPP service. In order to create an account, you will need two invitation codes from two different Riseup.net members. You can then visit https://user.riseup.net and create an account. Once your account is active, you can add it to Jitsi by following the steps below.

As shown in Figure 1 of the Add accounts to Jitsi section, the first time you launch Jitsi, you will see an account configuration screen that allows you to add various chat services to the application. After you have added at least one account, this screen will no longer appear. In order to add additional accounts, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click [File] in Jitsi's menu bar and select [Add new account...] to choose the service or protocol you want to use.

Figure 1: Adding new accounts

Step 2. Select [XMPP] from the Network list.

Figure 2: Selecting XMPP

Step 3. Type the username for your Jabber/XMPP account on this service.

Figure 3: Entering a username and password into the Add New Account screen

Your username should include the **@** symbol and the hostname of the service. For example

Step 4. Type the passphrase for your Jabber/XMPP account on this service.

Step 5. (Optional) Uncheck the Remember password box.

Important: If you want Jitsi to remember your passphrases for you, you should first enable its Master Password feature.

Step 6. Click [Add].

You can now use Jitsi to communicate through this Jabber/XMPP account.

In this section, we recommend only a single Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) provider, ostel.co. Their servers are located in United States. There are many free SIP services online, but ostel.co appears to offer the most reliable support for end-to-end encryption through ZRTP.

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Jitsi for Windows - Secure Instant Messaging and VoIP

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