Securing Instant Messaging with PGP Desktop 10 for Windows


Article ID: 180263


Updated On:


Symantec Products




This article provides instruction on how to encrypt instant messsaging sessions with PGP Desktop 10.

PGP Desktop automatically encrypts AOL and iChat standard instant messaging sessions, direct connects, and file transfers if the following conditions are met:


  • Both users in the IM session have PGP Desktop is installed and running on the system on which they are using IM. PGP Desktop 9.0 or newer is required to encrypt IM sessions with PGP Desktop 10.x.
  • Both users have the Encrypt instant messages setting enabled.
  • Both users are using compatible IM clients.
Note: The secure IM feature is compatible with any IM client that supports AOL's OSCAR protocol for instant messaging, such as AOL Instant Messenger, Trillian Pro, iChat and Gaim.


  • The AIM address of the initiator of the IM session is on the Buddy List of the recipient of the session.

To encrypt a instant messaging session


  1. Confirm PGP Desktop 9.0 or newer is installed on the system.
  2. Enable the Encrypt AOL Instant Messages (AIM) setting.
  • Click the PGP Tray icon in the Windows System tray and select Options.
  • Click the Messaging tab.
  • Verify or place a checkmark next to Encrypt AOL Instant Messages (AIM).
  • Click OK.
  1. If not already on your Buddy List, add the recipient to your Buddy List.
  2. Start an instant messaging session.

If enabled, PGP Notifier will display the IM session is encrypted by PGP Desktop.


Note: Audio and video connections are not encrypted by PGP Desktop.

PGP Desktops secure IM feature uses Perfect Forward Secrecy for enhanced security. All keys used to secure your IM sessions are generated at the beginning of the connection and then destroyed when you disconnect; completely new sets of keys are used for every IM session. This adds an extra level of security to your IM sessions.