Ways to Encrypt Your Messages and Make Them Self-Destruct

This post is about the best ways to encrypt your messages and make them self-destruct. This will protect you from threats like hackers and prying eyes.

What Encryption Is

Encryption is a way to protect the content of your private note message with ciphertext, which can only be unlocked by those that know the method to unlock it. There are two types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric encryption uses a private key, whereas asymmetric encryption uses both keys (public and private).

When you want to send a secret message, you use the recipient’s public-key to encrypt the message. He then uses his private-key to decrypt the ciphertext, revealing the plaintext.

Nobody else can decrypt the message without having access to both keys, thus protecting your data from hackers or prying eyes.

If you wish to ensure a message never reaches its target, while also self-destructing, then you need a mechanism to destroy data after a certain amount of time has passed.

What Self-Destructing Means

When a message is self-destructing, it means that you have a way to destroy the messages you send after they have been delivered. A good example of this is Snapchat or Wickr. They both allow you to set an expiration date for the message or picture so that it is automatically deleted after it has been viewed. Likewise, if someone takes a screenshot of your picture or message, it will also be deleted.

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This is a very important security mechanism if you don’t want people to have access to your personal data.

How Self-Destructing Works

There are two ways to make your data self-destruct. One is through a centralized server that you upload your message to, and the other is with PGP (or Pretty Good Privacy).

The centralized server method involves creating an account on the website that you want to use, and creating a public and private key just like with PGP. An account can then be created with the public key to be shared, and thus anyone who wishes to send messages to you would need your private key.

When you send a message, it would only be visible by whoever has the public key. If they click the link in the message, they could view it. After they have viewed it though, the message would be self-destructed.

The limitation with this is that all of your messages are stored on their servers, and could potentially be leaked or hacked. Another limitation is that you can only send 10 messages per day, which makes it less convenient for sending large amounts of information (like a dump of emails).

This method is more useful for small snippets of information like credit card numbers or social security numbers, and not so much for dumping emails.

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