Google has added an expiration feature to their Gmail service which allows users to set an expiration date for their sent emails, after which the email will be removed and permanently destroyed from the recipient’s mailbox.
The self-destruct feature works by sending a link as opposed to an attachment or sensitive content written within the email itself, this link will take the user to a page where the content can be viewed. The sender will be able to set the expiration date for the content as well as including a form of verification (Password/SMS Passcode) to help ensure that the content Is only viewed by the intended recipient.
To further enhance the security of sensitive information, content sent using this self-destruct feature has an anti-copy function in place to prevent users from copying and pasting the information on the page in hope of reducing the risk of sensitive information being passed on and potentially causing a data breach. However, users will still be able to take copies of the data via a screenshot or taking a photo of the computer screen, but these forms of data copying would be very difficult for Google to protect against.
Similarly, it is also announced that an unsend feature will also be implemented in Facebook using a similar expiration timer as previously mentioned for Gmail, after this expiration timer ends the Facebook message will be automatically retracted from the recipient’s inbox. This feature is only available via Facebook’s Secret Conversations feature, currently only available via the Android and IOS messenger applications.
It is no coincidence that both Facebook and Google are rolling out these new changes before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into action, attempting to show their services are GDPR compliant and still going to be viable for enterprise users.