Internet privacy and security course
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A trap for hackers: checking if someone is reading your correspondence.

Chapter 56

A trap for hackers: checking if someone is reading your correspondence.

This chapter will show you how to see if your messages in instant messaging applications are read. We used this method on a popular Russian social network by creating a provocative personal message that is supposed to be read by moderators. They did, and we actually saw that our messages are read. If you want to check if your correspondence is read by your spouse, hacker or boss, this method will come handy.

Interview widget: Do you want to know if someone else reads your messages?

 This method comes down to creating a link-trap that will be added to your message. The trap will be set up using a one-time-use note Privnote.

 You have probably read about Privnote in our previous chapter. This is an extremely handy service that allows users to disrupt information chain. But now you will learn how to use it to trap snoopers. 

Privnote allows users to send notes that self-destruct after being read – everyone knows about this core functionality, however, few know that Privnote also allows you to receive an email notification of the note being read.

 So first, create your privnote. Make sure to select the checkbox “Do not ask for confirmation before showing and destroying the note (Privnote Classic behavior)”, we don’t need any confirmations here. 

Enter the email address in the field “Email to notify when note is destroyed”. You will receive an email notification as soon as your note is read. After creating a note, you will receive a link that will resemble something like the followingвk7Sz.

Privnote trap

We are not going to send a link to our privnote, instead we will change it, for instance, by using an URL shortener service Bitly. Your link will resemble something like the following

Then you send the recipient a message that contains this link by email, instant messaging or social network. You may want to make your message look tempting for a perpetrator to click the link. For instance, in the following way:

All the papers on the deal currently being made are available here I am waiting for your reply if we need to add some last-minute changes.

The recipient should be notified that this message is bait, otherwise, he or she will click the link setting off the trap. The recipient shouldn’t click the link, it is meant for the secret reader of your correspondence.


Use a trap to see if someone else is reading your correspondence.

Your correspondence can be read by an intermediary, for instance, a social network moderator, and in this case you should change your communication channel or encrypt the data you send. It is much more dangerous when correspondence is read on the sender’s or recipient’s device.

We recommend you set up traps on devices to see i