I’ve just recently moved to Lemmy, and so far I’m enjoying it quite a bit. However, I’ve been thinking about the privacy issues whe DMing someone here.

Since this is a federated service, when you DM someone you have to trust both your server’s admin, as well as the recipient’s. Not that I particularly trusted reddit, but at least it was 1 corporation with (hopefully) some solid security procedures in place, and potential penalties for data breaches. Whereas in Lemmy, it might just be 2 random guys.

I’ve added an age key to my profile, in the hopes to make people aware of this issue. As well as giving them an option, if they wish to contact me privately.

I know, it’s not user friendly. But it’s the only way I could think of that wouldn’t rely on email + GPG. Does anyone know of a better solution?

EDIT: I also realise that not having signing capabilities might be an issue… So maybe reverting back to good ol’ GPG is a better option?

  • SalamanderA
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    9 months ago

    Yeah, at least Lemmy tries to warn users not to use the DMs to send sensitive or private information, and suggests using a dedicated encrypted messenger instead:

    The developers are very busy developing lemmy-specific features and encrypted DMs would be a lot of work to create something that is a bit redundant. But I am sure that if someone would want to make that, they would appreciate that help.

    Not that I particularly trusted reddit, but at least it was 1 corporation with (hopefully) some solid security procedures in place, and potential penalties for data breaches. Whereas in Lemmy, it might just be 2 random guys.

    Personally I wouldn’t trust 2,000 random guys any more than 2 random guys. I assume any of my unencrypted communications are public.

    • BrikoX
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      109 months ago

      Just to add to this, they have a separate option Send Secure Message which opens Matrix private room directly if the user has Matrix handle added to their Lemmy profile.

      • @NightOwl@lemmy.one
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        69 months ago

        I might as well start learning how to use matrix too with how I finally got into lemmy. Time to start learning alternatives to commercially available services.

      • SalamanderA
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        29 months ago

        Ohh, I did not know that! I should add a Matrix handle then

    • GankTopPlz
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      69 months ago

      You can always trust a large cooperation to keep your data secret more than any random individuals. They have accountability for losing your data, much more so than the people on the fediverse. A big data breach leads to class action for reddit, here it just takes down an instance and lowers the validity of the technology.

      • SalamanderA
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        29 months ago

        Yeah, that is true. But:

        • A large site often collects a lot more sensitive data about a users such as phone numbers, ips, devices, activities, browser fingerprints, and even correlates accounts

        • Because of the value and quantity of the data, large sites will be attacked more often

        However, a large enough data breach to be publicly exposed is not the only concern. I think that large sites pass their un-encrypted communications through filters to detect ‘illegal activities’, and in some countries ‘illegal’ can mean simply criticizing a powerful individual. Companies also use unencrypted communications to mine information that may be valuable to advertisers.

        I would not be surprised to learn that an intelligence agency has the ability to search through the plaintext of all of the DMs from a big site. Sites may give this ability to intelligence agencies in oppressive governments to track the activities of politically inconvenient journalists, for example. Laws can also change, and at some point it could be made legal to search through messages to detect even minor crimes. This may be unlikely, but it is possible.

        The pressures and stakes are different, but I wouldn’t trust either a big company or two guys. If it is important for you that your DMs remain private, then you should generate your own keys, encrypt messages yourself, and keep the keys safe.

    • @SpacePirate@lemmy.ml
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      9 months ago

      Honestly, seems like Lemmy could be a pretty good implementation of asymmetric PKI as well, the instance could easily host your public key as part of your profile, and only the user would have the private key.

      There’d be some vulnerability around key issuance and recovery, but with a good official app, most users would just store the private key in the Keychain or Android Keystore, and would never bother with exporting the keys.