Secure Instant Messaging, File Transfers, and Chat Sessions

Filed under Security Programs, Windows

Secure Instant Messaging, File Transfers, and Chat Sessions…

Something thats sounds so nice, who would have thought safe messaging… Having said the words ‘safe messaging’ is going to give a lot of readers the sense of false security. Please note, setting up a secure certificate isn’t going to protect you from IM worms or even exploits. This is to encrypt the traffic between you and your destination assuming both parties are using a secure certificate. Personally, I use this as a layer of my security in protecting myself against phishing attempts, or if somebody was trying to impersonate someone on my buddylist. This is extremly important to businesses and people that share private information over the internet.

Let me describe one perfect example of how having an secure certificate would have prevented a security threat; A few years ago, my brother recieved a message from one of his friends (we’ll name the friend Newbert), “Hey Tyler check out this program, WinAmp2005.zip” claiming to be a limited edition version. Tyler assuming it was from Newbert, downloaded the file without hesitation, extracted the zip file and ran the install. To his surprised he was prompted with an error and no installation began. What he didn’t know is the person he thought was his friend Newbert was actually some cyber script kiddie that just infected innocent Tyler with a trojan or password stealer. A few minutes later his screen name was signed off, and someone has changed his password. When he tried to request his password to his email address, his email password was already changed too. See if Tyler and Newbert would have had a secure certificate, tyler would have been able to verify that Newbert really was Newbert. Even if cyber script kiddie stole Newberts AIM password, locally on Newberts computer, he has to input another password to access AIM using the SSL cerificate. I’m not stating that a secure certificate will protect you against virus and worms. However, it adds a nice layer to your security.

It’s very easy to tell the difference between a secure user and the average user. If a user on your buddylist is using a secure certifcate you’ll notice a grey lock next to their screen name. if they are not you’ll notice nothing.

Aim Secure

So, now that you understand the importance of secure communications, I’ll leave you with a few choices. You can get a certificate for FREE from a few sources, however I would have to accept your certificate before communicating with you (I personally wouldn’t accept). Or you can make your own certificate. Last you can pay verisign.com to issue you one. This is the route I went, for I trust verisign more than some random source as well as myself. So for the 15.00 a year, it was worth it to me. However, they offer a free 60 day trial, so atleast check it out!

Free:
- Whitsoft Dev : http://www.whitsoftdev.com/aimcert/ – Very Simple to setup.

Pay:
- Verisign : https://digitalid.verisign.com/client/enroll.htm ( 19.95 1 yr. / 60 day free trial)

Once you’ve requested your certificate in either .p12 or .pfx format we can move forward with adding importing the SSL certificate into AIM.

Note: AIM Trinton doesn’t offer support for the SSL certificate. On a personal level you don’t want AIM Trinton.

Installation:
1) Copy the .p12/.pfx file to your desktop.
2) From your buddy list, go to ‘My AIM’ > ‘Edit Options’ > ‘Edit Preferences’
3) On the left side, select ‘Security’
4) Click the Advanced button.
5) Click the Import button under “Import a certificate.”
6) Browse to where you saved your SSL certificate and select the .p12/.pfx file listed and click Open.
7) When it asks for a “security” password, enter one. (This is the password you’ll be asked for everytime you sign on AIM for the first time)
8) When it asks for the password of the certificate, enter the same as above.
9) Make sure the box is checked next to “This certificate can identify mail users.” and press OK.
10) Click OK on all dialogs that come up, until you see one that says Certificate successfully imported, click OK on that one too.
11) Exit and re-start AIM.
12) Enjoy your SSL certificate and piece of mind while chatting with your online friends.

Ending Notes: Please let us know if you have trouble with creating or setting up your secure communication. Other than that, any feed back or different methods you might use for secure communications is welcome!

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