Privacy and security are major concerns for many internet users today. With data breaches and hacking being common occurrences, people want to protect their online information and communications. Privnote is a web application that offers a simple way to share encrypted messages that expire after being read. When you create a new note in Privnote, it uses 256-bit AES encryption to secure the message. This encryption has a few key features. It utilizes a symmetric key algorithm, meaning the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the data. The key itself is randomly generated by Privnote when you create a new note. It is not based on a password or passphrase you provide.
The encrypted data is then stored on Privnote’s server in its encrypted, unreadable form until someone accesses the unique URL. When the URL is visited, Privnote uses the randomly generated key to decrypt the ciphertext and display the original plaintext message. The key is discarded after it is used, so it cannot be reused to decrypt the ciphertext again if captured. This encryption process ensures the privacy of the notes since the keys are randomly generated on a per-note basis and tossed out after use. Even Privnote itself cannot feasibly decrypt and read the stored notes. The main downside is that the security depends on Privnote properly implementing the AES encryption. However, AES is a trusted and standardized algorithm, so there’s no major reason to believe Privnote is misusing it.
Communications is intercepted?
While the encryption used by privnote is strong, some may wonder if communications were intercepted in transit before encryption or after decryption. There are a few scenarios where this could occur:
- Over-the-shoulder – If recipients view the Privnote message over someone’s shoulder, they can see the plaintext.
- Screen recording – Message contents could be captured via screen recording software if not turned off.
- Browser exploits – Bugs/viruses in the browser or on the device could potentially access data.
- Network attacks – Privnote’s TLS connection could be compromised to intercept requests.
- Privnote breached – If Privnote’s servers were hacked, encrypted notes could be stolen.
However, Privnote was designed knowing these risks, and takes steps to minimize them:
- Notes self-destruct quickly after reading to limit over-the-shoulder leaks.
- URLs look meaningless to hide contents from shoulder surfers.
- Browser addons/extensions are blocked to protect against malware.
- Web traffic is protected by TLS to prevent network eavesdropping.
So while no encryption is perfect, Privnote’s protections make remote interception unlikely, leaving local exposure as the main risk. Users should still take care to view messages privately.
Is privnote’s encryption strong enough?
Privnote uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption applied properly, so the algorithm itself provides very robust security. The keys are generated uniquely for each note and discarded after use as well. It checks the right cryptographic boxes.
Potential weaknesses could stem from improper implementation, backdoors, or key leakage rather than the math itself:
- Code mistakes could break encryption, but open-source code makes this less likely.
- Backdoors could allow Privnote to access keys, but there is no evidence they exist.
- Key generation risks weak or duplicate keys, but this is improbable with proper random number generation.
So while Privnote’s design looks solid on paper, ultimately its security depends on trusting Privnote’s ethics and competence. Their open approach does help justify that trust somewhat.