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You can see my example working installation here:


We already know that all internet and phone traffic is being monitored. You cannot trust your email providers for private and anonymous access. Javascript is dangerous. Tor is broken in some circumstances. The PGP web-of-trust leaks user information in a dangerous way.

Let's fix some of that with software designed to let users of safe computers communicate over unsafe networks.

This webapp allows anonymous users to send messages to your inbox, which arrive signed and encrypted using PGP to ensure message integrity and privacy. Only SSL connections are permitted, which ensures encrypted communication between client and server. What SSL doesn't do is give you any idea of who the server is, be it legitimate or an attacker posing as the server. The internet tires to do this identity verification using CA certs but its a mess and full of vulnerabilities. Ultimately it is no better than self-signing, as CA certs only provide the illusion of identify verification.

The method we must use is called TOFU (Trust On First Use), you may be familiar with this if you use SSH. The client accepts the self-signed certificate and warns you if it unexpectedly changes. There are some firefox extensions such as Certificate Patrol that make this process easier for the end user. The only way to verify the identity of the server is by comparing the key fingerprint on a trusted channel of communication, such as in person or using a shared secret key. For numerous reasons this is beyond the scope of this project.

When a message is typed into the secure text box and submitted, it is securely transmitted to the server, encrypted using the recipient's public key, signed using the server's private key and delivered to a preprogrammed email account. More security conscious users may opt to have this email account be local to the server itself, but it can be delivered to any email account provided the server is capable of sending it.

A word on PGP: Like SSL, PGP is good at encrypting things, but poor at verifying identity. There is a system in place called the web-of-trust where users can verify each other's public key in person and build a network of key-identity connections. Other users can trust key-identity pairings based on how trusted the pairings are by others. The flaw in this system is that it publicly exposes networks of trust between individuals, which at best is detrimental to privacy and at worst is outright dangerous to political activists and dissidents. Again, the method we must use is TOFU. Accept the public key displayed on the site, verify it with a remote key or offline backups and be highly suspicious if it unexpectedly changes.

Because the end user may not yet trust the server's self-signed SSL certificate, they may wish to encrypt and sign their message with the displayed public key before pasting it into the secure message box. This will result in the message being encrypted twice, which is annoying but not much of a problem.


Based off deaddrop by tspilk, which I found via hackaday's article.


These instructions assume that you have basic knowledge of unix and have a server capable of sending email and hosting webpages.


  • tr
  • gnupg
  • apache or other webserver
  • sendmail or other MTA (I use ssmtpd)

First off, create the .gnupg directory for your system's webserver user (eg. www-data):

sudo mkdir -p /var/spool/www/.gnupg
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/spool/www
sudo chmod -R 700 /var/spool/www/.gnupg
sudo su www-data

Set up a keypair; use default answers and a blank key password:

gpg --homedir /var/spool/www/.gnupg --gen-key

Import your public key into the webserver keyring:

gpg --homedir /var/spool/www/.gnupg --keyserver --recv-keys

Export the server's public key so you can import it into your client for verification of received messages:

gpg --homedir /var/spool/www/.gnupg -a --export

Log out of the www-data shell.


Edit index.cgi variables to match your system (I assume you already have sendmail or equivalent set up, getting that working is outside the scope of this guide).

Make index.cgi executable:

sudo chmod +x /path/to/web/root/index.cgi

Set up webserver (I assume you already have SSL set up, this is outside the scope of this guide). Example apache configuration:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
    Redirect /
    <VirtualHost *:443>
    DocumentRoot /path/to/web/root/
    SSLEngine on
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl_wildcard_cert/server.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl_wildcard_cert/server.key
    Options +ExecCGI
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi

Things should now be working.