From The University of Washington comes Vanish, a new take on cryptography. When you place something online, be it an email, picture on a social networking site, settings ‘on the cloud’, or whatnot you always have the risk of whoever is hosting your content not deleting it when you ask them to. On another hand, maybe you have files on your computer at home that you want to have secure from prying eyes and are afraid that someone might uncover your decryption key, or maybe you have files that you delete that you don’t want to have recovered, even from a backup.
Computing and communicating through the Web makes it virtually impossible to leave the past behind. College Facebook posts or pictures can resurface during a job interview; a lost or stolen laptop can expose personal photos or messages; or a legal investigation can subpoena the entire contents of a home or work computer, uncovering incriminating or just embarrassing details from the past.
Vanish is a research system designed to give users control over the lifetime of personal data stored on the web or in the cloud. Specifically, all copies of Vanish encrypted data — even archived or cached copies — will become permanently unreadable at a specific time, without any action on the part of the user or any third party or centralized service.
At the moment you can only set the descruction timer in multiples of 8 hours, and you need to stay connected to the internet for the duration if used for longer than 8-9 hours, so it’s not really all too useful for something long term just yet. Even so, this does provide a new look at how crypto can be used to protect personal data. It currently comes in 2 parts, the back-end program, and a Firefox plug-in you can use to encrypt just about anything you put up online. They also have a web based demo
, with limited text functionality, for people who just want to see what it is like, as well as they have the source code available to download by interested parties.
Below I have inserted a quick little message that can be decoded via their web demo. Just make sure to copy and past everything between the 2 horizontal lines I have added.
—–END VANISH MESSAGE—–