Let’s take a look.
In an attempt to better automate some of the tasks that users routinely take on, Evernote will be introducing machine learning technology in late January 2017. Evernote’s CEO, Chris O’Neill, cited creating to-do lists and travel itineraries as examples of tasks that would be made easier with machine learning. Seems pretty benign, right?
Where people tend to get upset is when they find out that Evernote employees will occasionally be looking at their notes. Here’s the explanation from a recent Evernote blog post:
If you choose to participate in these experimental features, you’ll enjoy a more personalized experience. Select Evernote employees may see random content to ensure the features are working properly but they won’t know who it belongs to. They’ll only see the snippet they’re checking. Not only that, but if a machine identifies any personal information, it will mask it from the employee.
You might find this reassuring, or you might feel like your privacy is being violated. Either way, many people are pretty nervous about Evernote employees reading their notes. After making the announcement, Evernote quickly backtracked, stating that machine learning would now be an opt-in feature, instead of a necessary one for all users.
How Secure Is Evernote?
Not forcing users to participate in this program is definitely a step in the right direction. The fact that Evernote thought this was a good idea in the first place is worrying, though. Your notes are stored unencrypted on company servers as well, meaning that a governmental request for your information would likely mean that agents would have access to all of your notes.
Just to be clear, notes are indeed encrypted in transit, but they’re decrypted once they hit the company server. And you can encrypt the text in specific notes, but you’ll need to generate passwords for them. Evernote doesn’t store those, so if you forget it, that note is lost forever. These are all considerations you may want to keep in mind.
You probably shouldn’t be storing highly sensitive information in an app like Evernote anyway. But all of these facts might make you a bit nervous about your privacy.
If it does, read on for a few secure note-taking options.
The idea behind this app is very simple: provide users with a space to safely store whatever they want. Turtl makes it easy to store text notes, files, images, passwords, and bookmarks in encrypted storage. Everything is encrypted, even on Turtl’s servers. They don’t even store your password, which means if you lose it, you can’t get any of your notes back.
The note editor and organization system in Turtl aren’t as advanced as those in Evernote. But if you’re primarily interested in storing text notes and images, it’s great. The interface is very clean and easy to use, and there are very few settings to mess with. Just start it up and go.
You can also share notes via Turtl, which is a great feature for an encrypted note-taking app. The app is currently free on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, and will be coming to iOS in the near future. Turtl will also be launching a premium version for users who want to store large amounts of data.
Unlike some other options, Laverna doesn’t have a central server, so they’ll never have access to your notes — even encrypted ones. Instead, you’ll need to sync it with Dropbox or RemoteStorage. You can then access the notes from the web interface or the desktop client, available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. An Android app is coming soon.
Laverna’s support for Markdown makes it a cinch to format your text, and it provides support for task lists and code highlighting. Beyond that, it’s a bare-bones note-taking app, perfect if you’re looking for something with minimal distractions. Privacy enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that you don’t need to register to get started.
Download — Laverna for Linux, Mac, and Windows (Free)
If you don’t need many organizational features — if you just use your note-taking app to jot a few things down and then move or delete them, for example — Protected Text will meet your needs. It’s about as simple as a note-taking app can be: a few plain-text tabs, and that’s it. No text formatting, no folders, no tags, no search. Just an encrypted space to store your stuff.
You can access this web app through your browser by going to protectedtext.com/[anything] and if that particular URL is available, you can claim and password-protect it. After that, all you need to do is go back to the same URL and enter the password. That’s all there is to it!
Instead of offering a new note-taking app, Saferoom encrypts your Evernote and Onenote notes before syncing them to the cloud. It requires more steps than simply using an encrypted note app, but it does let you keep using your chosen note-taking app.
You can choose to encrypt specific notes, giving you some flexibility. This is likely to be the best option for users who are committed to Evernote and can’t imagine moving to something else. It’s currently available on iOS, Android, Chrome, and Windows.
Image Credit: Turgay Koca via Shutterstock