How Vanish Works
A "vanishing message" doesn't actually vanish; what one has is a block of cryptotext that cannot be deciphered. But that's good enough.
From the Vanish website overview page:
- We leverage an unusual storage media in a novel waynamely, global-scale peer-to-peer networks.
- Vanish creates a secret key to encrypt a user's data item (such as an email).
- It breaks the key into many pieces and then sprinkles the pieces across the P2P network.
- As machines constantly join and leave the P2P network, the pieces of the key gradually disappear.
- By the time the hacker or someone with a subpoena actually tries to obtain access to the message, the pieces of the key will have permanently disappeared.
The software in its default mode will make a message effectively vanish within eight hours. Control settings in the software make it possible for that message to last longer.