Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

E-mail Confidential

Reader Asks How To Ensure Only Intended Recipient Can Read The E-mail

Q: I read your article on using WinPT to encrypt e-mail. But I don’t think that will work for me. I am an appraiser, and I need a way to ensure that confidential documents are seen only by the customer, and I need that document to be locked down. I do not want the client to be able to forward it to some other party, or be able to alter the contents. I use Acrobat to create locked PDF’s but how do I handle the encryption?

A: Dear Reader, I think what you need is a Mission Impossible type system, and once the e-mail is opened, a recorded voices says, “This e-mail will self-destruct in 10 seconds… 9…8…” Ha! (hint: google “self-erasing email”)

Seriously, I did write a series about using GPG and WinPT (see Who’s reading your (e-)mail? Part 1) to generate digital certificates. That topic didn’t do too well — too technical, probably — and so I wrote about a much simpler method (see Simple E-mail Encryption) where you get a certificate and ‘plug it in’ to your e-mail client. (Both these have the advantage of being free.)

And you are correct: those methods will not prevent your clients from forwarding the e-mail once they’ve opened (decrypted) them. They are used point-to-point, to ensure privacy during the transit.

To make sure that your recipients cannot forward, or copy>paste your confidential documents and e-mail attachments, I recommend using the “Pro” version of eCipher, which costs $80/yr. This will prevent printing and forwarding of your messages.

Today’s free link: There is a free site that lets you send confidential e-mails using a unique method, and gives you lots of control (including preventing forwarding). Checkout WatchDox.

Today’s free download: Folks, There is also a free version of eCipher which is very easy to install and use. If you are concerned about privacy and confidentiality, check it out.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 1, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, encrypting files, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , ,


  1. TechPaul,

    eCipher – a new one on me. Checking it out now! Email is something most people do not take seriously. Once it is out there, it is out there…



    Comment by whatsonmypc | June 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Rick,
      The eCipher method requires the recipient to also have eCipher, which is not a real show-stopper, but I think for most people, the method in my second article would probably work best.


      Comment by techpaul | June 1, 2009 | Reply

  2. Maybe Privnote may serve the need.


    Comment by jgoto | June 2, 2009 | Reply

    • jgoto,
      I thank you for your contribution. Privnote is one of the self-erasing (self-destructing) message services I hinted at early in the article, of which there are many — most free. (I like the Big String.)

      These services are often very configurable, and allow you to set any number of parameters (Privnote is very simple and straightforward) and can be very useful indeed.


      Comment by techpaul | June 2, 2009 | Reply

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