A program for communication with employees. What is the alternative to SEChat?

Интерфейс SEChat

SEChat is a peer-to-peer chat for exchanging text messages and voice calls in simple local networks. You do not need a server for its work. Each program copy is a client and server at the same time. SEChat works with the technology for broadcasting and multicasting. All members are equal, there is no administrative functions, system or restrictions.

Unfortunately, the program requires UAC elevated privileges. Everything installed in Program Files. You need to give permission for it in Windows firewall, otherwise, you won't see your interlocutors in the chat.

The program does not work via the Internet, in few segments of a local network, and in Windows Server terminal sessions. It is not routed.

SEChat has interesting solutions that are not typical for P2P chat. For example, offline messages look like emails. You can write a message to an offline person from your contact book, and the program will automatically send a message when a sender and recipient is online again.

It is possible to find some mentions about SEChat server and client for Linux. The program settings haму a section about the connection to the server via TCP, but we couldn't find setup files for the server and Linux-based client.

SEChat has not been updated since 2002; the official website does not work and the domain is sold. Thee is no support for users as well.

  1. A brief review of SECHat issues
    1. Problems with the installer, no digital signature, UAC privileges
    2. SEChat and encodings
    3. Interface flaws
    4. Security deficiencies
    5. Help page
    6. What's wrong with voice calls in SEChat?
    7. Bulletin board
    8. No control for the program's multiple launches
    9. Message history issues
  2. Comparing SEChat and MyChat secure office messenger
  3. Recommendations for switching to MyChat

1. A brief review of SEChat issues


This review was written about the last available version of SEChat 4.0.11 Beta from July 22, 2002. We compared it with a free messenger MyChat v.7.6 from July 12, 2019. We described SEChat flaws and tried to explain why you should move to MyChat.

Briefly, the list of main issues that users struggle with when using his software for text and voice communication in a company network. Screenshots and explanations provided.


1.1. Problems with the installer, no digital signature, UAC privileges


SEChat has no digital signature, and the program itself demands elevated privileges for installation:

UAC and SEChat

By default, the program installed in Program Files, but not in a user profile or any other folder:

Installing SEChat

The installer has a license agreement:

License agreement in SEChat

There is no digital signature in the SEChat.exe as well:

No signature in SEChat

A lot of companies do not allow to install software without digital signature du to security measures.

Right after the download, SEChat requires permissions for running a built-in UPD server:

Installing SEChat server


1.2. SEChat and encodings


SEChat does not support UNICODE, and you will have problems with such characters in the chat:

UNICODE and SEChat

UNICODE messages do not get into a log file, the text is messed up, in win1251 encoding:

Encoding in SEChat


1.3. Interface flaws


There is no horizontal scrolling for conferences, but the control for names length is provided:

 SEChat interface items

It turned out that you have to use Ctrl+Tab for all tabs to find the one you need:

SEChat context menu

To open a private chat you need to type a reason for doing so, which is strange.

You can't insert a multi-line text from the clipboard using Ctrl+V: only the first one will be inserted.

A hotkey for calling the chat window does not work even if you change it:

SEChat  hotkeys

After the program restart, there is no repeat entering to existing conferences, and message history:

SEChat message history

However if you create a conference #main (starting with a small letter), then after he program restart you get two conferences called Main:

SEChat conferences

By the way, you can't exit the conference #Main, but you can leave the conference #main.

Automated entrance to conferences is set separately. Interesting, that the box is checked next "#main".

SEChat conferences

You can create conferences with the same names but different letter register. If you don't specify the name, it will set as "Unnamed":

SEChat conferences names

Moreover, it is possible to send private messages to yourself:

Sending messages to yourself

But the text of such messages is not displayed, and there is only a mention of it in the main channel:

Sending messages in SEChat

The program has no control for messages with empty lines. It has, in fact, but from one side. Empty lines are cut from the end of the message, but not from the start:

SEChatmessage control


1.4. Security deficiencies


No antispam and anti-flood filters, you can send messages as much as you want:

Anti-spam in SEChat

Also, you can specify personal information about an employee:

Information about an employee in SEChat

Even if don't specify anything, the gender is set as male. The information about the operation system displayed in a deformed view, as something covers the text. There is also an IP address and a conference in which a client user in right now.

This is already a security flaw, as people should not be able to see such data. But, considering SEChat as a serverless product, we can't talk about some centralized system of rights and restrictions.

The program has a tool for remote command running, but it does not work:

Running commands in SEChat

Perhaps, this is for good, as such a tool without proper administration and logging is a potential backdoor and security issue.


1.5. Help page


The Help page is in English only, but it's working:

SEChat Help


1.6. What's wrong with voice calls in SEChat?


The voice communication is available, but the quality is very poor:

Communication in SEChat

And the reason is not the codec or sample, but the absence of noise suppression. The sound is sensibly echoing, even if you change the codec and set the frequency to 44 kilohertz with a stereo. Also, there is no system for suppressing the echo, when a sound comes from speakers to a microphone, again and again, being messed up completely. This issue is very relevant for notebooks owners who have no headsets.

"VoiceLink!" is not a call system in its traditional sense. It is a system of constant sound transfer for one or more computers working strictly in a local network in a "direct sight" of one network segment. Sometimes it's helpful because you use something similar to audio conferencing. But on the other side, nobody asks if you want to hear all the sounds or not.


1.7. Bulletin board


The idea is good, but the board works weird. You can send a message but can't create another one, as it erases the old one. The icon for creating a horizontal line is present but does not work. Perhaps, they forgot to hide it when a user switches between conferences and Bulletin board.

Because there is no centralized server, the Bulletin board displayed differently for each client as there is no system for synchronization.


1.8. No control for the program's multiple launches


You can launch the program as much as you want:

SEChat multiple launching

Messages sent but not copied to other program's duplicates and log file.


1.9. Message history issues


Logs are not separated by data markers, but they all written to the same text file that becomes bigger every time.

In general, messages are written to the log, but sometimes they are no there. You write a message, send it, restarted a computer but it does not appear in log C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\SEChat\Logs\SEChat.log#Main.

A bizarre option "Action", "Add to log file" in a context menu. We couldn't find the explanation in Help.

To save a conversation log to a tetx file, click on "File", then "Save to file". But the program suggests not the folder "My Documents" or "Desktop" but the folder "C:\Program Files (x86)\SEChat\". Strange solution considering that users have no rights to write in these folders. Logs are written to a profile, and developers knew that users with a minimum of right will use this software.


2. Comparing SEChat and MyChat secure office messenger


In the following table, we compare basic features of SEChat 4.0.11 Beta from July 22, 2002, and MyChat 7.6 (Free Edition) from July 12, 2019.

Ability SEChat MyChat
Installation, uninstallation and update system
1.1 Installer Yes Yes
1.2 Uninstaller Yes Yes
1.3 Automatic Installation No Yes
1.4 Automatic updating system No Yes
1.5 Automatic updating and saving of all the data when installing the latest version over the old one No new versions Yes
1.6 Portable version No Yes
Network settings
2.1 Work in large networks No Yes
2.2 Work in complex networks and via the Internet No Yes
2.3 Guaranteed message delivery No Yes
2.4 Work in terminal sessions No Yes
2.5 Traffic encryption No OpenSSL
2.6 Work in very bad networks (satellite connection, "long" pings) No Yes
Default functions
3.1 Private messages Yes Yes
3.2 Text conferences Yes Yes
3.3 Notifications with a return receipt No Yes
3.4 Common Bulletin board Yes Yes
3.5 File transfer No Yes
3.6 Images transfer No Yes
3.7 Automatic backlight for links in a text Yes, http:// links Yes
3.8 Messages history view No Yes
3.9 Event sound notification Yes Yes
3.10 Personal contact list Yes Yes
3.11 Sending messages and files to offline users Yes Yes
3.12 Graphic smileys Yes Yes
3.13 Voice calls Yes Yes
3.14 Video calls No Yes
3.15 Screen sharing No Yes
Active Directory integration
4.1 MSI package to deploy users via Group Policy No Yes
4.2 User transparent authorization No Yes
4.3 Importing users from the Windows domain No Yes
4.4 Support for any amount of various domains No Yes
4.5 Collaboration between common and domain users No Yes
Appearance configuration
5.1 GUI languages Yes Yes, UNICODE
5.2 Appearance customization Yes Yes
5.3 Font changing Yes Yes
Administration
6.1 Centralized configuration of user rights and restrictions No Yes
6.2 User Groups No Yes
6.3 IP, MAC filters No Yes
6.4 Anti-spam and anti-flood filters No Yes
6.5 User management system No Yes, WEB interface
6.6 Detailed reference information about users (Full name, email, phone numbers, date of birth, photo, etc.) Yes, briefly Yes
Operating systems
7.1 Windows Yes Yes
7.2 Android No Yes
7.3 Linux No Yes
7.4 Mac No Yes
7.5 WEB No Yes
Additional abilities
8.1 User network status "free", "busy", "away" Yes Yes
8.2 Scripting language to write simple programs which extend chat abilities No Yes
8.3 Integration with external services No Yes (1С, phpBB, REST, php, C#, Delphi, Python, etc.)
8.4 User search system No Yes
8.5 Tree-like contact list that is common for the whole network with an unlimited nesting level No Yes
8.6 Account manager for several users who work on the same program No Yes
8.7 User ignore system Yes Yes
8.8 Plug-in system to extend program abilities No Yes
8.9 Company department list No Yes
8.10 Company work position list with the sorting "superiors from above" in the contact list No Yes
8.11 Built-in forum No Yes
8.12 Task management No Yes, Kanban
8.13 Website chat No Yes
8.14 Distrib Maker No Yes
Technical support
9.1 Built-in help system Yes Yes
9.2 Community support forum No Yes
9.3 Developers support via email No Yes
9.4 Additional reference information, articles about the program use on the website, blog, etc. No Yes
9.5 Developers support via Skype, Viber, Telegram, WhatsApp No Yes

3. Recommendations for switching to MyChat


Why? SEChat network local program has no updates, no problem fixes, no support for Android and iOS, no software for macOS, Linux, and WEB. There is no compatibility with Windows 10. Replacing this office chat is a question of time.


How to move to MyChat? For small companies of 20 online users, such switching from SEChat to MyChat will be easy and affordable, because the default license of MyChat is free (what is the difference between commercial and free MyChat versions?). There is no trial period, the program is ready to work "out of the box" and does not require some special configurations. For budget organizations it is important.


Prices. Licenses are concurrent, for a number of people online, you buy the server only. One online user costs $6. One year of updates is free, then update subscription costs $2 for one online user per year (if you want to move to new versions). Programs that are purchased individually are MyChat Guest, Distrib Maker for custom setup files, and a Quiz bot.


Support service. We provide support during the business day. Our official support forum.


How long you've been working? MyChat enterprise messenger development started in 2004 році; updates released 5-6 times a year. More than half a million "live" users from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, India, Canada, USA, Great Britain, etc.

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