Tech

How to prevent your messages from coming back to haunt you?

In today’s digital world, most of our communication happens online – whether it’s texting, messaging apps, email, or social media. While this provides convenience and quick communication, it also poses risks of your private messages being exposed or leaked without your consent. An accidental screenshot, device hack, or data breach could mean your conversations end up in the wrong hands. That text you sent in anger or the compromising photo shared in confidence could come back to haunt you if made public. 

how does privnote work? PrivNote is a private messaging service that allows you to set an expiration time for texts and files you share via a unique link. The recipient can only view the message for the set duration (maximum 7 days) before it self-destructs from their browser with no traces left behind.

Practice caution with email 

Email is not encrypted by default and messages are stored permanently on servers unless you take steps to increase security:

  • Never send compromising content over regular email. It can be hacked, forwarded, or stored without your knowledge.
  • For sensitive communication, consider services like ProtonMail that are end-to-end encrypted by default and allow timed self-destructing messages. 
  • Avoid putting confidential information in email subjects that are not encrypted.
  • Set emails to delete automatically after 30 days so they do not linger on the server indefinitely.
  • Be wary of email forwarding and the BCC (blind copy) field which allows including undetected recipients.
  • On Gmail, opt out of ‘Smart Compose’ and turn off ad personalization to limit text predictions from your data.
  • Use two-factor authentication to prevent account hacks.

Essentially, treat email more like a postcard than a sealed letter – assume anything you write could potentially be viewed by others besides the intended recipient.

Lock down social media privacy settings

Social platforms like Facebook hold tons of private messages and photos with minimal default privacy. Take preventative measures:

  • Restrict old posts and photos from public view if they contain any private, controversial, or compromising content. 
  • Limit your audience for new posts to only friends or even a custom friend list if desired.
  • Disable features like facial recognition tagging which expose your contacts.
  • Opt out of third-party data collection for ads to limit external sharing of profile info.
  • Never send confidential data like SSNs, addresses, or financial information over social media, even privately.
  • Delete messages after a conversation ends, don’t let them linger.
  • Use expiring stories instead of permanent posts in apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook.

Assume anything you post, even privately, could potentially be leveraged against you and adjust settings accordingly.

Protect Texts on Your Phone

Texting is convenient but not secure. Here are some precautions to take:

  • Encrypt your smartphone’s storage using a password/fingerprint to prevent breaches if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Delete sensitive text threads once the conversation ends. Do not keep them lingering in your archives.
  • Limit notifications to avoid sensitive info popping up on your lock screen where others could see it.
  • Disable SMS cloud syncing features like iMessage on iCloud which store your texts externally.
  • Consider using Signal, WhatsApp, or other encrypted apps for your primary messaging instead of regular unsecured SMS texts. 
  • Turn off SMS backups to third-party clouds. Use local encrypted backups only.
  • Use two-factor authentication and strong passwords on your phone’s lock screen to prevent unauthorized access.

Ultimately the risks of regular texting can be avoided by switching to a more secure messaging platform.

 

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