How to Safely Send Secrets Online

Whether it’s business documents, passwords or sexy messages, there are safer ways to transfer files online.


Today we explained How to Stop Companies from Collecting and Selling Your Facebook Info. Over at Lifehacker, though, they’re having fun with “Spy Week,” and have republished advice on sharing sensitive info over the Internet. Here’s a sample, how to sneak somebody access to an account…

Sometimes all it takes to increase your security is a little obscurity, and that’s what this method is all about. You send the sensitive data over separate channels so that only the recipient is likely to have context for what it all means. Let’s say you wanted to share a username and password with someone over the internet. Here’s the basic idea:

  1. In an email, send the username with an accompanying message—something like “I’ve texted you the FTP password”.
  2. Text the password separately, with no context.
  3. The recipient receives the password, saves it elsewhere, and deletes the text message.

Even if your recipient doesn’t delete the message (which you can’t count on), a snoop would have no context for what it applies to. The basic idea could work in any direction, as long as you’re separating the context from the information. Is it 100% foolproof? Absolutely not. But it’s better than nothing, which is what many of us are doing now.

You could also use the phone and avoid text altogether. Check out the story for advice on securely sending files and “sexting.”

Stacy Johnson

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