Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes
A really cool privacy tool has been developed by the computer science department of the University of Washington. Vanish is a system that allows users to send a message that will disappear after a set amount of time. Not only is this a much cooler way to make a message private than the disappearing ink that I used to write a message as a kid, it truly has a Mission Impossible theme.
Why A Self Destructing Message Might Be Important
I have personally worked on cases where old messages came back to haunt the writer. In one case, two trusted friends and business partners sent emails back and forth during the course of business. Later, after the business and personal relationships had deteriorated to the point of litigation, those earlier emails became very important. It was information contained in those emails, some of them informal and personal emails rather than official business communications, which were the determining factor to the final outcome of the case. Had they acted like a hawaladar and used Vanish to set a date where those communications could no longer be read, there would have been a different outcome to the case. To protect your own communication from future disclosure, especially when the recipient is amicable when the message is sent, Vanish is a vital tool. Vanish is also useful any time that a document may be subpoenaed in the future, essentially giving the document an expiration date which is hopefully before the date of a potential subpoena.
How A Message Will Self Destruct
The details of the encryption device or method can be more fully understood on the website for Vanish along with how the peer to peer network is set up. The website also contains tons of other useful and interesting information about the service and its potential uses, even if networking peer to peer or system encryption aren’t big hobbies of yours. This very short video accompanying this post explains in sufficient detail how you can make your own messages self destruct.
Vanish is a powerful, and very fun, tool for protecting the privacy of your communications. Coupled with other encryption methods, using Vanish could make deciphering your message truly a mission impossible. A well encrypted message takes time to decipher, even for those with massive resources to decode messages. With Vanish, the time limit could be set to expire long before the message is able to be decoded. I highly recommend installing Vanish on your computer or at least using the online version to benefit from this incredible, free tool. You should also get the book How To Vanish to find other strategies for protecting your private communications. Using anonymous web surfing tools will also increase your privacy protection.