Better privacy, without special software.
Portable Secret is a little hack that allows you to:
It’s portable because: decrypting these secrets does not require special software! All you need is a browser.
I also use Portable Secret to store some my most sensitive secrets (private keys, 2FA recovery codes, etc.)
Finally, I use it to store copies of important documents (like a picture of passport). These documents are accessible to me from anywhere, even if all my trusted devices have been stolen or lost.
Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading. This is for you.
Portable Secret is not a product and it is barely a project. It is just a neat trick, a hack.
A ‘Portable Secret’ is simply an HTML file that also contains:
Any (reasonably modern) web browser can open the file, even without an internet connection! If you know the password, you can recover the secret within.
Here’s an example (the password is
Notice that the file is self-contained and has no external dependencies! It can be carried on a USB drive and decrypted without an internet connection, on any device that has a web browser.
To understand how it works, go ahead and create yourself a secret. Download and inspect the generated Portable Secret.
The embedded code is straightforward:
Do you want to communicate privately with people, but you can’t expect them to learn how to use PGP?
Send a Portable Secret. For example as email attachment.
Hey ___, attached to this email is the PDF and data you requested, but it’s encrypted. Never double-click on attachments, it’s dangerous! Give me a call when you get this, and I’ll show you how to read it.
Whenever they call me, I tell them:
Right-click on the attachment and ‘Open with…’ any browser. The password is ‘banana_split’. Now you can save the decrypted PDF.
Some secrets don’t belong in your password manager. Things like backup private keys, 2FS recovery keys, wallet keys, safe combinations, treasure maps, etc.
Using Portable Secret, I can keep copies of these critical keys all over the place (Cloud drives, USB drives, all my devices, etc).
Even if some of these copies end up stolen (e.g. I lose a USB stick), I am not concerned anyone will be able to recover the secrets within.
The passwords are long sequence of words that are trivial for me to remember (thanks to the hints provided), but impossible for anyone else to guess or crack.
Have you ever gotten stranded in a foreign country without any of your devices or documents? It’s not fun.
I keep a copy of my passport encrypted on the internet. It’s just an HTML file, it’s easy to host. If I find myself stranded again, I can use any computer/device to retrieve it.
Do you think this cannot possibly be secure? Great, prove it.
This secret contains the recovery key for a Bitcoin wallet. Crack it and take my money!
Choosing a strong-enough password is key (pun intended).
Eventually I’ll fill in this paragraph. For now all you get is the obligatory XKCD: correct-horse-battery-staple
Portable Secret is a tool. As such, it can be used wrong (e.g. weak password), or used to do bad things (e.g., exfiltrate intellectual property).
I cannot take responsibility for such misuse any more than a hammer manufacturer can take responsibility for me hammering my thumb, or using the hammer to attack someone.
I came up with Portable Secret on my own, but I have since found a few projects that do something similar.
If you are aware of other similar/related projects, please let me know and I’ll link them here.
I would love to hear what you think of this project, good, bad, or ugly.
You can also find my email on my homepage (linked from my GH profile).
Or discuss on HackerNews