This e-mail will self-destruct without a mess

This e-mail will self-destruct without a mess

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

When messages self-destructed in the vintage television show 'Mission Impossible,' viewers saw smoke and heard hissing. Infraworks Corp. of Austin, Texas, has a new product that does the same thing to e-mail attachments, but without any mess or noise.

A sender equipped with Infraworks' InTether software can impose rules on the recipient's use of a message. 'If you try to violate any of the rules, the message will self-destruct,' said George Friedman, chairman and chief technology officer of Infraworks.

The tool fills a security gap left after an encrypted file has been opened by its intended recipient. 'If you are sending material important enough to be encrypted, you probably want to put some controls on the user,' Friedman said.

Infraworks also sells Sanitizer, which wipes hard drives for secure disposal, and Shredder, which destroys files after deletion so they cannot be recovered. Shredder technology supplies InTether's self-destruct mechanism.

The sender first saves data, voice or video files as InTether files. A dialog box shows the potential restrictions, which include whether or how often the file can be copied, printed, viewed, forwarded or downloaded, and when the file will be destroyed. After the file arrives, it goes into a virtual vault on the recipient's computer where it is invisible to the directory system and can be located and read only with an InTether software reader.

Your eyes only

The 200K reader can be sent with the message or downloaded by the recipient from Infraworks' Web site, at The message will operate only with the reader of the intended recipient.

The reader guards the vault, monitoring file calls and blocking prohibited functions. It can prevent files from being copied to a disk, forwarded, printed or moved by cutting and pasting, if the sender has prohibited those actions.

Trying to work around the restrictions or to move the protected file into the open results in loss of the data, Friedman said. InTether also can support pay-per-use digital publication.

The company plans to follow the antivirus software model of distributing upgrades to its users as quickly as exploits are identified. It hopes to keep successful exploits to a minimum by its defense of shredding a file as soon as it is threatened.

InTether's first release runs under Microsoft Windows 9x and Windows NT. Future versions will support Unix operating systems. Initially InTether protects only e-mail, but plans call for adding File Transfer Protocol, Web downloads, and floppy disk and CD-ROM distribution. The sender software is $165 per copy; the reader is free.

Contact Infraworks at 800-308-5825.


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