Gmail Confidential Mode is a new Gmail feature that helps to protect your Emails by restricting what a recipient can do with your Email and even can make an Email disappear after a certain amount of time.
Gmail has added a new feature called “Confidential Mode”. This feature is designed to help people protect their Email content and as well as any attachments they may include. It is a new feature that is on communication security and protecting the content of an Email. It allows you to set some new, strict controls around what someone can do with an Email that they have received.
This feature works on the native Gmail web application, as well as with the Gmail Android and iOS versions of Gmail.
By using this feature, you can control the ability of someone to forward, copy, print or download an Email they receive.
Messages can also be “locked” and only accessed with a password that is sent by either an SMS Text Message or via Email for users that don’t use the Gmail application.
Emails sent via Confidential Mode are also deleted from the recipient's inbox (or whichever folder they move it to) after a certain amount of time as defined by the sender, ranging from just one day to a maximum of five years.
Here is how to send an Email in Confidential Mode:
“Compose” an new message in Gmail
Select the “Confidential Mode” button in the Compose Toolbar at the Bottom of the Email.
The Confidential Mode Options will now be displayed.
Here’s the Key Options for Confidential Mode:
Disabled Recipient Options
The person who receives the Email will be able to open it and read the content. However, they won’t be able to:
You can set an expiration date for your confidential Email. This means that the recipient won’t be able to access the content of the Email once they hit the defined expiration date.
In addition, the expiration date can be changed. If you suddenly want the Email to be inaccessible before the expiration date:
Go to your Sent folder in Gmail
Find the Email in question
Select “Remove access”
You can also require that the user must enter a Google generated SMS Passcode in order to access the Email.
There are two options to choose between when it comes to defining the Passcode:
No Passcode - The recipient can open the Email directly without needing a Passcode.
SMS Passcode - You enter the recipient’s phone number and they receive a passcode via an SMS Text Message that they must enter in order to access the Email.
This essentially creates “Two Factor Authentication” required to open the Email message.
If you chose SMS Passcode and Gmail does not have the cellphone of the recipient in your contact list, then you will be prompted to provide their cellphone number in order to receive the SMS Text message.
When the recipient receives the locked Email, they will need to request the SMS Passcode and then enter it where prompted. This works just like most SMS Passcode applications.
Once the recipient provides the passcode, the Email will be unlocked and they will be told how long they can view the message before it will disappear.
What are some of the Limitation of the Gmail Confidential Mode:
There is some debate by security experts over the technical methods used by Google to implement Confidential Mode. I’m not able to comment on the specifics, but feel free to read about it in an article by the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) .
Security professional Christopher Budd has pointed out that scammers can actually use a “mock-up” of Gmail’s new Confidential Mode to create phishing attacks to collect user’s cellphone numbers and other data.
The messages sent by Confidential Mode still stay in the Sender’s “Sent” folder, so if you want to ensure you remove all traces of the message, make sure you fully delete the Sent messages as well.
Confidential Mode doesn't stop someone from taking a “screenshot” of your Email, or using some sort of screen capture program, so there are still ways that the Email can be captured and retained despite the self-deletion option.