Privnote is a popular online service for users to share text, links, images, and files that expire after being read. It has gained popularity as a way to send private, ephemeral messages without requiring the recipient to sign up for an account. But just how secure and private are Privnote messages?
Encryption & data security
The Privnote’s biggest selling point is its use of end-to-end encryption and decryption to protect notes in transit and at rest. Here are some key facts about how encryption is implemented:
- Notes are encrypted client-side using 256-bit AES encryption before being transmitted to Privnote’s servers. It means only the holder of the URL can decrypt and read the note.
- Encryption keys are destroyed immediately after one-time use, preventing decryption after note expiration.
- Privnote uses TLS v1.2 protocols for secure transfer between clients and servers. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks.
- Encrypted notes are stored on remote servers operated by Privnote’s provider Digital Ocean.
- Privnote software is open source, allowing transparency into its security architecture.
With end-to-end encryption, there is no way for Privnote itself or outsiders to access the contents of your messages. Only the intended recipient with the unique URL can decrypt and view it.
Access control & expiration
To prevent unauthorized access, Privnote gives you multiple options to control who can view notes and when deleted:
- how to protect text messages? Set an expiration time between 1 minute and 7 days. Notes expire and are deleted from Privnote’s servers after this time passes.
- Set a view limit between 1 and 100 views. The note self-destructs after it’s been opened this many times, regardless of expiration time.
- Add an optional password that must be entered alongside the URL to view the note.
These controls allow you to tailor Privnote to your specific privacy needs. For quick messages that you want to be wiped immediately, you can set 1 minute expiration. Or require a password for an extra layer of protection on sensitive data like financial info or medical records. The expirations give you confidence that your Privnotes won’t exist on the internet indefinitely or are accessible after their usefulness has passed.
Company & founders
Privnote was founded in 2011 by Karol Frydryk and Maciej Ceglowski. Frydryk is a longtime pioneer in online privacy tools who previously created several other security platforms like Anonim.org and Sepi. Ceglowski is an entrepreneur and prominent internet activist focused on ethics and privacy. He’s founded other companies like Pinboard and has been an outspoken critic of the data collection practices at tech giants like Facebook and Google.
Having founders with deep backgrounds in security and online privacy has ingrained those values into Privnote’s DNA from day one. They understand both the technology and ethics required to earn users’ trust in handling sensitive information.
Without collecting usernames, IP addresses, emails, or any other identifiers, Privnote doesn’t have user data to sell or share. Their business model relies entirely on donations from supporters, not profiting from user data. Their policy also confirms they cooperate with legal authorities only when required for criminal investigations. Even in these cases, Privnote stresses they are unable to hand over message contents due to end-to-end encryption.