Communicating privately online is harder than ever before. Between government surveillance and an epidemic of hacking, our emails, texts, and chat messages have never been more at risk. This is why secure encrypted messaging tools are essential. Privnote was an early pioneer in private online messaging when it launched back in 2011. The free web service allowed anyone to create text notes that self-destruct after being read once. This provided a simple way to share sensitive information that completely disappeared. Privnote is a web service that allows users to create text notes that self-destruct after being viewed once by the recipient. Here’s a quick overview:
- Go to Privnote.com and type a text note into the homepage field
- Hit “Create Note” to generate an encrypted, self-deleting version of the note
- Privnote generates a unique random URL to access the note
- Share the URL however you want – email, chat, etc.
- Recipient visits URL to view note one time
- After reading, Privnote permanently deletes the note from their server
This achieves ephemeral messaging where sensitive info can be shared privately but still disappears without a trace. No accounts or history required. The unique URLs act as decryption keys while enabling deletion. how to private message? The notes are also encrypted in transit and at rest on Privnote’s servers. Overall, it allows anonymous private messaging with minimal vulnerabilities.
Sharing your secure note URL
Once Privnote generates the random URL for your encrypted note, you need to share it privately with only your intended recipient. Here are some ways to send the URL:
- Email – paste URL into email body or attachment
- Text message – copy/paste URL into SMS or encrypted chat
- Messaging apps – forward URL via WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc
- In person – show URL on your phone or write it down
However, there are some limitations:
- Messages aren’t end-to-end encrypted from the sender to recipient.
- Browser security remains susceptible to some attacks like XSS.
- Early versions had bugs like session cookie leaks.
- Users must trust the site code functions as described.
- Lack of audits and infrastructure hardening of a mainstream service.
Overall though, Privnote’s intense focus on ephemerality and deletion provided very robust security compared to alternatives at the time like email and SMS.
Operational security tips
To keep your Privnote messages secure, be sure to follow good OPSEC practices:
- Only access Privnote through its official website – avoid fake clone sites.
- Verify your contacts’ identities to prevent impersonation schemes.
- Never publicly post or screenshot your Privnote URLs – keep links private.
- Use two-factor authentication on your accounts to prevent hijacking.
- Enable remote wipe capabilities in case your mobile devices are lost/stolen.
- Periodically purge your email/chat history to remove Privnote URLs.
- Consider using an encrypted email provider like ProtonMail for added privacy.
Following basic precautions greatly reduces the risk of your private notes being compromised.
Ethics of ephemeral messaging
While providing greater privacy, encrypted ephemeral messaging also introduces some ethical concerns:
- Vanishing messages can obstruct law enforcement investigations and hide illicit activity.
- Message deletion enables harassment, discrimination, defamation, and other abusive behaviors.
- Encryption makes detecting child exploitation, terrorism planning, and other crimes much harder.
- Government access to encrypted data always risks undermining user trust and privacy rights.
There are no perfect solutions here. But informed debate on ethical data access and transparency are needed to strike the right balance between privacy, security, and responsible encryption.