Sending nudes: some advice to be (relatively) safe

Maybe with confinement, you think that sending a pretty naked photo (“nude” in internet jargon) to your partner or flirt of the moment would be a good idea. Be aware that sending nudes exposes you to the risk of leaking part of your privacy, from which blackmail maneuvers can emerge. While keeping this idea in mind, we offer you some advice to secure your shipments as much as possible.

French men and women have been called upon by the government to respect containment rules. Between those who do not live with their partners and singles who want to continue online dating, love practices could also go digital. Sending a nude photo, or nudefrom one consenting person to another, could experience a spike.

Let’s sweep away the absolute cybersecurity injunction right away: yes, the practice is potentially risky, since it is impossible to guarantee that the photos will not leak. These particularly intimate images can arm blackmail maneuvers, and cause moral and financial harm.

But it is up to consenting adults to make choices and it is not up to anyone to pass judgment on the practice. Many continue and will continue to send their most sensual selfies, especially during periods of confinement: this is why, without dissuading them, we seek to communicate some practical and technical advice to partially reduce the risks. It’s up to you to adapt more or less radical precautions according to your exposure. Public figures and people with high responsibilities, for example, will be more easily targeted by blackmail or cyberattacks. For example, the former candidate for mayor of Paris, Benjamin Griveauxpaid the price.

Pretend your nude is going to end up on the internet

This is one of the principles of cybersecurity: zero risk never exists. So pretend your nude photo was going to arrive on the Internet. Even beyond the revenge porn, photo database thefts have taken place in the past. In this case, you will want to be unidentifiable. To achieve this, avoid including your face, tattoos, or distinctive birthmarks in the corner of your photo. Similarly, remove any recognizable element that appears in the background of the image. You are the main subject, but the background can give a lot of information.

You have to think of everything, starting with the obvious: personal photos, the painting in your living room that is on all your Instagram photos, or the view from your window. But go further: does your bathroom have such horrible wallpaper that anyone who passes by remembers it? Maybe you need to exclude it from the angle of the photo, or cover it with the editing tool already integrated into your smartphone.

If your nude ends up on the Internet, there are a few recourse as a victim to eliminate him from the main networks. But stopping its distribution entirely is particularly complicated.

The origin of the leak is most often human

The majority of leaks are of human origin. This principle applies to companies as well as to your nudes. Even if you could send your nudes with messaging reserved for information, if the recipient shares the photo, all your precautions will have been ineffective. The person sharing them may also include evidence that you are behind the submission. So it’s best to share your nude photos with someone you trust (at the risk that they won’t be so afterwards), and make sure that they take security measures similar to yours.

Non-consensual sharing of nude photos — also known as revenge porn — is punishable by law, and its issuer faces a fine of 200,000 euros and 2 years in prison. This sanction can be increased in the event of blackmail or harassment, even if in fact, the victims struggle to be heard.

Apply a minimum of protection to your accounts

Whichever application you choose to send nudes make sure your accounts — and your partner’s — are properly protected. If a hacker managed to steal your partner’s account, he could recover your nudes. Here are five basic and simple precautions to put in place:

  • Have a lock code sufficiently complicated and confidential (avoid giving it to your family or roommates) on your smartphone: you don’t want a thief or a third party to be able to open your smartphone and access your nudes. Ban “000000” or “123456”.
  • Use a unique password on the app with which you will send nudes: if you use the same password for all your applications, a leak on one of the services you use is enough to put all your accounts at risk. If your password is complex (follow our guide), it’s even better.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (our guide), available on the majority of known applications. It allows you to request a second means of verification to connect to the account, in addition to the username and password. Verification by SMS is the most common: the service sends you a unique code on your smartphone, necessary to connect to the account. So even if the hacker has your credentials, he must also have access to your phone line to enter your account.
  • Update your apps. The updates contain critical security fixes. The older the version of your application, the more attacks you will be exposed to.
  • Disable localization of your photos. If they end up on the Internet, a malicious person could find your address from the metadata.

Choose encrypted messaging

To send your hottest photos and messages, prefer a end-to-end encrypted messaging. In concrete terms, your messages and images will only be understandable on devices connected to your accounts. If a pirate breaks into the application’s servers or if a spy intercepts your conversations and your images, he will only find a sequence of characters.

Only your device and that of your recipient have the key to decrypt the message. Of course, encryption is not infallible, but it greatly increases the level of security of your conversations. Here are the options available to you.

Messenger and secret conversations, the most risky

Take precautions if you use Facebook messaging. Messenger retains images, and does not encrypt messages by default.


Messenger allows you to start secret, more secure conversations, but better options exist. // Source: Numerama

For more security, you can activate the option ” secret conversation » : your messages will be encrypted, and you will be able to view them for a limited time before they disappear. Don’t take this for total protection: a screenshot (or a video capture) is easy to do and will immortalize your shot…


Messenger has an option to make messages disappear from devices after a certain period of time. // Source: Numerama screenshot

Beware of WhatsApp default settings

WhatsApp relies on open source encryption technology, and has many users: it is very likely that you and your partner are already used to it.

But you have to make sure that your partner has deactivated one of the default settings: without modification, WhatsApp will automatically save the images that you send to him on your conversations to his smartphone. They will therefore end up on the film of his smartphone, often unprotected, between the photo of his cat and the dish he cooked for his lunch. Worse, he or she might not be aware of it, and show your nudes to his parents instead of his holiday photos.

To disable this option, go to “Settings” at the bottom right of the app, then click on “Chats” and disable the “Save to Camera Roll” option.

HD TV.jpg

To save yourself unnecessary fears, disable the default save option! // Source: Numerama screenshot

On the positive side, the application allows you to delete photos for all members of the conversation, unlike Messenger. But with its 2 billion users, WhatsApp attracts the greed of high-level hackers, who create software to exploit flaws.

Signal, because why not

unknown to the general public, Signal has established itself as one of the references for people wishing to exchange confidential messages. It is used by journalists and MEPs, but not widely used elsewhere.

It has the advantage over WhatsApp of not depending on Facebook or another large company, and of having roughly the same operation. Signal also allows you to send ephemeral messages, such as Secret Messenger.

But it has an obvious flaw: do you want to install an app just to send nudes to your partner? If you already use it, do you want a photo of your buttocks between two confidential documents related to your work?


On the Messages app, messages are end-to-end encrypted by default. So it’s an excellent choice… if your partner has an iPhone. Without an iPhone, your message will be sent by MMS. Also pay attention to the devices on which your account is connected: they will also receive encrypted messages but could be less secure (a family iPad, a desktop Mac, etc.).

Snapchat, the right compromise?

Snapchat’s ephemeral messages give the impression of protection. Your nude only appears for a few seconds, then seems to disappear. The image does not save on the recipient’s device and you yourself no longer see the snapshot if you have not saved it. In addition, you receive a notification if the recipient takes a screenshot.

This impression of security corresponds to a certain technical reality: Snapchat only keeps images on its servers until they are opened by all recipients. Then it deletes them. Snap can therefore keep the image for less than a day, and up to 30 days if your recipients have not opened it. And since 2018, the application end-to-end encryption of messages.

On the other hand, we must be careful not to forget other precautions in favor of this feeling of security. The screenshot notification, for example, is very easy to circumvent: just take the image with a second device or use another app.

If you decide to use Snapchat to send your most intimate photos, avoid connecting third-party apps to them. Each of them could be an additional angle of attack for pirates. In 2014, 200,000 photos leaked, but Snapchat’s servers weren’t to blame. The leak was caused by a third-party app, Snapsaved, which saved photos permanently on users’ smartphones.

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All our practical guides in the section How to

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