Tech Edge Weekly

Tech Blog


Is privnote a good way to protect your information?

We constantly share personal information online, from text messages to emails to social media posts. Your private communications may be intercepted, tracked, and misused. It is where encrypted messaging apps like Privnote come in. Using Privnote, a free online service that contains a self-destruct option, users share text, links, images, and files as self-destruct after reading them. The recipient will no longer be able to access the content after a short period following the sending of the email.

Before anything goes to Privnote’s servers, every privnote is encrypted. It prevents third parties, including Privnote itself, from being able to access the original plaintext. The recipient receives a unique, random URL to view the note. When opened, the privnote decrypts its contents client-side, in the recipient’s web browser. It protects the information from interception during transmission. When the preset view limit is reached, the URL expires and the encrypted note disappears from Privnote’s servers. There is no way to recover the contents after that time.

Limitations of privnote

  • Not open source – Security researchers can’t fully verify that there are no bugs or backdoors.
  • Requires JavaScript – Won’t work if the recipient has disabled JS in their browser.
  • Only protected text content – You can’t send photos, videos, documents, etc.
  • Temporary – Notes disappear after being read. Not suitable for long-term information storage.
  • Limited control – You can’t prevent screenshots, copying, forwarding, etc.
  • Third-party server involved – You have to trust Privnote with link generation, decryption, etc.
  • Little recourse if hacked – If Privnote’s servers are compromised, your information could be exposed.

There are also apps to send self-destructing messages as part of your normal messaging workflow, like Confide and Dust. These integrate into your existing networks like SMS or WhatsApp. The confidentiality of the platforms themselves could be a concern. And you use encrypted cloud storage for long-term file storage. It doesn’t provide the ephemeral nature of Privnote but ensures the content remains accessible to approved parties.

Privnote does provide a useful way to share sensitive information more privately than regular messaging or email. The encrypted, self-destructing notes prevent the content from being persistently stored or intercepted in transit. Privnote comes with limitations. You have to trust that the service handles your info securely. There are also usability drawbacks like content restrictions and expiring links. It’s not an ideal solution for securely communicating private information.

Privnote provides a reasonable level of privacy for more casual sharing of personal information. Like any technology, understanding its strengths and limitations is key to using it safely and effectively. Privnote is “good enough” depending on your specific privacy needs and threat model. Considering moderately sensitive personal communications, it’s likely “good enough” for many users. Those with high-risk situations info may demand tools with stronger security assurances. Privnote occupies an interesting niche as a convenient, user-friendly option for ephemeral messaging. While not completely bulletproof, it does offer meaningful privacy benefits over standard communication channels. Just be aware of its limitations, and use copious amounts of caution when sharing personal content.