How to Send Secrets Securely Over the Net
So much of managing our privacy and cybersecurity involves not sharing secrets over the Internet. Some people love to overshare on social media. They can post all kinds of personal information or send emails with passwords or credit card numbers.
But how can you safely share private information like this over the Internet? From Netflix passwords to important routing information for your bank, It can be difficult to securely share anything. The last thing you want to do is just share these via email or DM (direct message). But what are some strategies for sending secret information safely and securely over the Net?
Even if you are a die-hard believer in cybersecurity and have an encrypted device on your own private network, the day may come when you have to share private information over the Internet. You want to share it as securely as possible. Maybe you need to share a password with a computer illiterate family member. You may be in a rush and have to send your credit card number to your assistant before getting on a flight. But how can you do this without it being seen by prying eyes or putting all of your accounts at risk?
What not to do
It can be dangerous to send out personal information like passwords, bank or credit card numbers via email. Putting them in the plain text of an email is the absolute worst way to send private information. You never know where it can end up. Your email service provider (ESP) will encrypt your messages, but that doesn’t mean this information is 100% secure. Or that putting personal information in your email account is a good idea. If your email, or more likely the recipient’s email, is ever hacked this information is just waiting to be found. This info can also be saved in various places and is difficult to delete if your email is synced across multiple devices. The more places your email message exists the more chances someone can snatch up your private info and use it for their own ends.
Tips for sending sensitive information safely
A great tip for sharing secure information is to not list anything explicitly. If you don’t share the context, it would be very difficult for anyone to know how to use the information. It’s best to not share all the information across the same medium. For example, you can share the username or login email and the password separately. This ensures anyone trying to use the information has to do double duty to use all of it. You can communicate across your cell phone, computer, social media accounts, and apps. Spreading out the information you’re sharing across multiple platforms is one way to ensure privacy.
The better, but not best, way to share information would be via services like Skype Private Messages or WhatsApp. They have end-to-end encryption that ensures this information cannot be intercepted. If you’re in a rush and need to send something on the go, these might be your best choice.
If you have a password manager like LastPass, you can safely send your passwords via the app or plugin. This can ensure that the password is safely stored and no one, other than the intended recipient can receive it.
You can also consider an alternative payment method like Zelle, Paypal, Venmo, or CashApp rather than using a credit card or bank information. This can eliminate the need for disclosing any account information via unsafe means.
By far, the best way to send out a password or piece of financial information is to use the free service onetimesecret.com. Like Mission Impossible, One Time Secret creates a message that will self-destruct upon receipt. But, be sure to not include both the username and password, just the password. Or if you’re including financial information consider the account number but not the routing number. Then you have the security of knowing that this message was only accessible one time.
Sure, there are other apps with expiring messages. For example, you could use Snapchat or Instagram. But these messages can be screenshot. And there’s no guarantee that this information is super secure. There are complex ways to ensure total security. You could try using PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) which uses advanced encryption. But it’s likely to involve more steps that may not allow your less tech-savvy friends to securely and easily get the information.
We all have things we’d rather not have seen on the internet. But the time may come when we need to share information that might be risky if it gets around. Hopefully, now you can use the tools and tips in this article to safely share your secrets with the party you want receiving them and not some online ne’er-do-wells.
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