You've got mail…read it while you can

2019-03-07 07:10:01

By Duncan Graham-Rowe “THIS message will self-destruct in five seconds,” the tape recorder in Mission: Impossible warned. Now an e-mail service has created the electronic equivalent of the exploding tapes from the cult TV series. And the providers of the service are so confident about their system’s security they are offering $50 000 to anyone who can hack it. Using 2048-bit public key encryption to keep the e-mail secure en route, Global Markets Research, a London-based company, has given its 1on1mail service an added security feature. Called autoshredder, the function allows the user to set the e-mail to delete itself from the recipient’s computer a specified amount of time after being opened. The idea is to prevent e-mails that may contain confidential or embarrassing material coming back to haunt you. This is what happened to Microsoft’s Bill Gates last year when he was forced to defend himself against his own private e-mails in an antitrust case. To make sure the messages arrive safely, the company has designed the 1on1mail package as a secure network within the wider network of the Internet—a “client-based application”. This ensures that the route is always secure, says technical director Steven James. And to guarantee that the messages self-destruct as planned, the package also prevents recipients from performing certain actions that would undermine security. “You can’t just cut and paste out of it, that would be pointless,” says James. The system also takes precautions to ensure that the e-mail is not stored anywhere within the recipient’s computer,