Author : Sead Fadilpašić
Google has introduced a new feature for Gmail which should ensure that your emails don’t get opened or shared without proper authorization. Called “Confidential Mode”, it allows the email author to choose who gets to read and respond to an email, as well as to revoke access to the email at virtually any point in time, or even to withdraw / destroy the message completely.
“Recipients of messages in confidential mode don’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download messages, including attachments,” Google explains in a blog post.
“Users can set a message expiration date, revoke message access at any time, and require an SMS verification code to access messages.”
The feature is available for both G Suite admins and users, as well as regular Gmail users, on computers, Android and iOS devices. If you’re interested in giving this feature a spin, here’s how to do it:
- Go to gmail.com or open the Gmail app
- Click Compose
- Find the “Turn on confidential mode” button at the bottom right corner of the compose screen. On PC, it will be represented with a lock and clock icon. On mobile apps, tap on the three dots (the “More” button) on the top right corner and tap Confidential mode.
- You will be prompted with things like expiration date, passcode and other details.
- If you decide not to use the SMS passcode, whoever receives the email will be able to open it directly. Non-Gmail users will get the passcode via another email.
- If you decide to use the SMS passcode, whoever receives the email will be texted the passcode. Make sure you type in the recipient’s phone number when prompted!
- On PC, click Save, then Send. On mobile apps, tap the Done button.
Like everything else on the internet, when you send an email, you’re actually sending a copy. The original email will always remain on your account, and another copy will probably be made on the email service provider’s servers, as well. This can turn into an issue, especially if you’re looking to send a confidential message with things like payment details, personally identifiable information, journalistic research or whistleblower material.
With the Confidential mode, Google wants to make sure the email’s author can decide who gets to see the message, for how long, and if they could share it afterwards.
If you have enabled SMS passcode when recipient opens the email he would need to verify by receiving SMS passcode
And if recipient tries to open email after the expiry he would receive this message
Google is also warning everybody that nothing can ever prevent the recipient from taking a screenshot of the email and forwarding it that way. The risk is still there, especially if the recipient is infected with screenshot-taking malware.
To learn more about Gmail’s access management and confidential mode timing, visit this link.
Sead is a freelance technology journalist and blogger with extensive experience. Before turning freelance, he spent more than three years at Al Jazeera’s web editorial. He now reports on 5G, IoT, Cloud, AI and Blockchain for different publications and blogs. He’s based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and spends his free time trying to explain to his daughter why screaming to get food is not the best strategy.