Apps and cloud services to instantly capture ideas, share notes, and collaborate with others. But with data breaches increasingly common, security is a top concern.  End-to-end encryption provides an important safeguard for your confidential notes stored online. But how does this encryption work? What exactly does it protect? And why is it critical for note apps?

 Encryption basics

Encryption is the process of scrambling information into an unreadable format using cryptographic techniques authorized parties with the right encryption key decrypt the information back into plain text. Encryption protects the confidentiality of data while stored (“data at rest”) and while transmitted between devices (“data in transit”). It converts sensitive information into secure coded form.  With end-to-end encryption, the data is encrypted on the user’s device before syncing and storage in the cloud. How safe is privnote?The cloud provider has no access to decryption keys, so notes remain scrambled. Only the recipient with the key is decrypted.

End-to-end encryption secures note apps

Implementing end-to-end encryption involves complex processes happening behind the scenes. Here is a simplified overview of how this encryption typically works in note apps:

  1. When you first launch the app, encryption keys are generated and stored only on your local device.
  2. When you create a new note, the app encrypts the text on your device before syncing your note to cloud storage.
  3. Your note remains unintelligible scrambled data while at rest on company servers.
  4. When you view your note later, the app on your device decrypts the text using your locally stored keys.
  5. You share notes with other users by granting access to your encryption keys. Their apps then decrypt your notes.
  6. If you forget your passwords, the company cannot recover your notes since they lack your keys.

With this approach, your confidential notes remain private while enabling convenient cloud sync and collaboration features.

Major apps utilizing end-to-end encryption

  • Evernote – Evernote’s E2EE “Privacy Mode” allows opt-in encryption plus sharing options. Notes are scrambled on devices before syncing. Requires account password to decrypt.
  • OneNote – Microsoft’s OneNote implements E2EE using your signed-in Microsoft account. You must enter your Windows account credentials to view protected sections and pages.
  • Standard Notes – This open-source app was built for encryption, ensuring the provider cannot access your notes. Uses client-side encryption libraries developed by the Signal Foundation.
  • Joplin – Joplin notes are encrypted with AES-256 encryption and only decrypted locally after entering your master password. Sync is still E2EE.
  • Bear App – Opt in to encrypt notes, locks, and todos with AES-256-GCM encryption. You must unlock the app with a Face/Touch ID, passcode, or account password.
  • Apple Notes – While Apple’s Notes app lacks E2EE, your notes are protected via on-device encryption using keys tied to your Apple ID for unlocking.
  • Simplenote – Simplenote does not yet support end-to-end encryption. Notes are encrypted in transit and at rest on servers.

While end-to-end encryption is now common, some note services still have not fully implemented this advanced security. Always check if E2EE is active by default or requires being enabled manually before trusting a provider with your confidential notes.