Guarding my (naked picture) privacy
October 15, 2012 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Say I have a girlfriend who sends me naked pictures, how best can I safeguard those on my Android phone?

No one but me should be able to see them, what's the best way to accomplish that? I do lock my phone with a good password, but no one wants to have to worry about their friend looking at their vacation pictures and continuing to something they shouldn't see. An app would work I guess, though that just makes me nervous because you're still putting them in someone else's creation. Is there any way to just create a folder, and password lock it, or anything similar?

I personally have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus S 4G, running the most updated version of Jelly Bean.
posted by anonymous to Technology (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The only sure way to prevent someone from seeing these pictures on your phone is to not have them on your phone.

And, if your girlfriend ever wants a career in public service, politics, teaching, working with kids, working for the CIA/FBI/Secret Service, law, medicine.. well, nearly any employment... she will consider sending photos such as these...
posted by HuronBob at 5:54 PM on October 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

Take it off your phone. I've had pictures that won't supposed to be seen, seen, and oh heeeeey that is embarrassing. The best thing you can do is transfer it to a private folder on your computer.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:57 PM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Vaulty or a similar app. Put the pictures in there, choose a good password, the files are then encrypted so they can't be retrieved without the password. If the phone (or memory card) is stolen, they're safe.
There may be an OSS app out there too if you want to only trust open crypto.
posted by anonymisc at 6:02 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I use Handcent SMS Privacy Box - never had a problem with it, just don't save your password on it.
posted by lpcxa0 at 6:10 PM on October 15, 2012

You're not saving them to your SIM card, right?
posted by fshgrl at 6:24 PM on October 15, 2012

I can vouch for shady photo and video safe
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:10 PM on October 15, 2012

I might be paranoid, but I don't believe it is possible to keep them 100% secure on a device that is permently connected to the internet.

Do you use third party applications to send SMS? If so the images might already be saved on some random server somewhere. A friend of mine works for one such company and they have backups so that they can fulfill requests from law enforcement.
posted by phil at 7:14 PM on October 15, 2012

Remove them from your phone. Put them in an encrypted, password protected zip file on your hard drive.

Or better yet, delete them.
posted by empath at 7:21 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

if your girlfriend ever wants a career in public service, politics, teaching, working with kids, working for the CIA/FBI/Secret Service, law, medicine.. well, nearly any employment...

I think this was true 20 years ago. For the generations that grew up never knowing a world without digital photography, it's the new normal, the culture has shifted, and continues to shift as the new demographics replace the old. To the new, it wasn't Weiner's photos that sunk him, it was him abusing his position, sending them to people unsolicited and unwanted.
posted by anonymisc at 7:43 PM on October 15, 2012 [8 favorites]

There's also PhotoVault as well. Keep in mind that there's also the possiblity, if someone clones your phone's SIM card or identifier, that they'd receive those pictures as well. SMS has that risk.
posted by punocchio at 8:22 PM on October 15, 2012

It's a Bad Idea all around, but if you just have to do it, you might want to look at apps like Pair.
posted by evoque at 8:36 PM on October 15, 2012

You can't, not really. If your girlfriend wants to keep them private, best to remove them entirely or not even send them at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 PM on October 15, 2012

If you don't want then seen, delete them, and tell her not to send or take more.

Computers don't keep secrets; they spread them.
posted by ead at 9:29 PM on October 15, 2012

it's the new normal, the culture has shifted

It still matters, at least for highly-competitive fields (law, medicine). It won't necessarily keep you from getting hired, but it's a major handicap to overcome, and these are fields where there are plenty of qualified applicants eager to take your place. As for teaching—if you've got a sketchy online history, you're not getting hired. Kids are even better at digging up online dirt than parents.

When it comes to security clearances though, you can be as freaky as you want to be, provided you do it openly. All they care about is whether you can potentially be blackmailed. If you're OUT AND PROUD, you've got nothing to worry about. It's the hiding that worries the Agencies.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:59 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

"App lock" apps will just prevent your gallery from opening without a second password -- I don't think they would actually contain the photos, just block their access.
posted by feets at 1:33 AM on October 16, 2012

If you have a Nexus S, then you can encrypt the entire phone, so that if you don't know the PIN, you can neither unlock the phone, nor get at the data on the internal flash. Make the PIN reasonably long & re-use numbers so that simply looking at the smudges on the screen isn't sufficient to guess the PIN. (Wipe across the screen after you unlock it to obscure any fingermarks if you really care about keeping this data secret).

The Nexus S doesn't have a slot for an SD card, so there's no possibility of data leaking out via that route.

Of course, that doesn't protect you from any remote attacks, but it will mean that if you lose your phone (or it gets stolen) naked pictures of your girlfriend are less likely to get out: it would take a very determined attacker to get at them.

NB. I believe encrypting the phone means you can't mount the storage on your computer over USB any more.
posted by pharm at 2:11 AM on October 16, 2012

This might be one of those "if you have to ask, you shouldn't do it" type of questions, but the fact that it's a phone doesn't make it much more vulnerable, except that it's more likely to fall into someone else's hands. You really do have to assume that the device will be stolen at some point.

Merely having a PIN lock is not enough, because it's not encrypting anything. The the data is just sitting there like it would be on a hard drive and can be slurped off in any number of ways. If the data is not fully and strongly encrypted, it is not safe on any device (PC or phone).

You're fine if it is in a properly encrypted volume, the password is reasonably strong and not stored on the device, and the application that reads the volume completely shuts down and leaves memory after you're done using it.
posted by pjaust at 5:50 AM on October 16, 2012

Lifehacker recommends using Dropbox (see #9)
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:51 AM on October 16, 2012

I don't have experience with protecting particular files or folders, but it terms of whole phone security: Install Avast immediately. The ability to remotely lock down and track your phone is invaluable given how much personal data we keep on them these days. Not to mention scandalous photos.
posted by lholladay at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2012

Dropbox encrypts everything stored on the Dropbox servers with a single shared key. In principle, any Dropbox employee with access to that key can see everything you upload.

Now, they're probably not going to care much about some random saucy pics (I imagine there's no shortage of them on Drobox) but it's something to be aware of.

This is why you can't use Dropbox for client confidential stuff, or at least if you do then you're implicitly trusting Dropbox itself with your data in a way that you don't with truly secure cloud storage companies where all your data is encrypted with a key that only you know. The trade-off is convenience of course: Because Dropbox knows the key, they can do things like offer browser based access to your data, with nifty image galleries and all that kind of thing.
posted by pharm at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only way to really keep them secure is to get them off the phone. And the only world where Internet nude photos doesn't matter when applying for a job is a world where there is no competition for jobs.
posted by cnc at 4:55 PM on October 16, 2012

From someone who would prefer to remain anonymous:
Learn from my mistake: Don't keep them on your phone. I am a substitute teacher, and one day a kid stole my phone. I had to explain to the principal that there were nude, but not overtly sexual photos of my ex on it. It was incredibly embarrassing and a very uncomfortable conversation to have. Luckily, whichever kid took my phone dumped it in the field behind the playground, and I there were never any consequences from the whole thing.

With something like a phone, there's always potential for someone to see those photos.
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 PM on October 16, 2012

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