Privacy concern: "Backup OPML file of your NewsBlur sites"

My list of feeds is something that should remain private. Email is not secure, so should not be used to send the backup OPML file with a list of all my feeds.

IMO the proper way would be to send a link that requires logging in, then allows the user to download the file. The link and file would be valid for, say, 1 to 3 days.

Where does that happen? The only export OPML option I know of, under “account”, gives you a file download. Agree that while it’s not the biggest privacy concern out there, email probably isn’t the ideal way to distribute such.

It’s an email that I receive with title: “Backup OPML file of your NewsBlur sites” when I delete >1 site.
Email content: “You have deleted a number of feeds at once, so here’s a backup of all of your subscriptions just in case. …”

1 Like

This is one of the many small, hidden features that genuinely make me love NewsBlur even more. It shows how NewsBlur’s a product that thinks of its users’ needs first.

However, I do understand your concern, so if this feature is up for debate, please don’t just remove it. I’d be fine with making it optional.


flatlands: I’m not suggesting getting rid of the feature, just making it more secure/private. Instead of getting the backup file attached to the email, you’d use the link in the email to download the file (after logging in, if not already logged in)…

That isn’t any more secure, just a pain for normal use cases with lots of extra overhead.

If your email account is compromised, the forget password process makes it trivial to both compromise your newsblur account and lock you out of both. Plus every other account connected to your email.

If you’re worried about your email provider scanning your email, use a different provider for your newsblur account. Just like you must already be doing for everything else you don’t want a provider to scan.

The threat I’m talking about is the fact that email is not guaranteed to be secure end to end (because it’s not guaranteed to be encrypted end to end).

Sending the backup file via email therefore exposes it to an attacker between NewsBlur and me.

But if the backup file is made available to me only after I log into my NewsBlur account, the lack of end-to-end email encryption is no longer a threat for the backup file.

@matthewmascari Please don’t trivialize the difference between passive and active attacks on privacy. A truly dedicated attacker can compromise anybody anywhere, but that doesn’t invalidate peoples’ concerns about needlessly emailing private data around.

The simplest option here is a yes/no button where people can opt out if they want. No pain, very little overhead.

I agree the other options, while fun to think about, would create a lot of overhead in either code complexity or storage use.

Hi, while I can appreciate these concerns I think that emailing the OPML file is the best idea for a more important reason than the forgot password flow also sending credentials through email. I want users to have a backup of their sites, snapshotted as often as possible, sitting on their own servers. That way if anything should ever happen to NewsBlur’s servers and they’re not up to give you your sites, you have a backup.

Instead, I am thinking about automating a yearly automated backup email with your OPML as a safety measure.


Sure, as long as I can disable the emails. I’ll use the web client / api when I want a backup, personally.

Re. the OPML backup file: There’s a “Download OPML” link in Preferences. So how about this as a simple solution:

  1. Create a new URL that opens the Preferences > General tab and positions the dialog so that “Download OPML” is visible.
  2. Modify the email in question to remove the OPML attachment and to instead provide a link with that new URL, and the suggestion that the user click on “Download OPML” and save the file.

If you don’t like that, then Yardena’s suggestion is a good one, so that a user can completely disable emailing of OPML files for their account. I would then set myself a ~quarterly reminder to manually download the file.

(BTW, NewsBlur is great!)