What is Gmail Confidential Mode and How to Enable it?

Google has released a new feature which allows the users to set a self-destruction time on email on their smartphones. This major design overhaul was announced in April along with the first look of G Suite. Along with the Google’s design revamp, came this Confidential Mode. This feature has now come to Android devices.

What is Gmail Confidential Mode

What is the new Confidential Mode?

This confidential mode which has been rolled out for mobile devices helps in safeguarding private data of the user. It prevents unauthorized access.

Users can enable this feature while sending a confidential mail. They can add a self-destruct date and a password. Due to this, the access to that particular mail gets restricted. Whoever receives the email set in the confidential mode will be unable to copy or edit its content. Even the print function will not work. The receiver will not be able to send the email to anybody else by forwarding it.

How to use the Confidential Mode?

Steps for sending a self-destructing email in Gmail:

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Click on the Compose button located in the upper left pane.
  3. In the message box, locate the Confidential Mode icon. A small lock with a clock represents it. Click on it.
  4. Now, the Confidential Mode screen will come.
  5. Set an expiration date for the email. By default, the email will expire in a week.
  6. You can decide whether or not you want to add an SMS Passcode.
  7. Click on the Save button located at the bottom right corner of the confidential mode prompt.
  8. Now, the email will get deleted upon expiry.

How secure is Gmail’s new Confidential Mode?

Nevertheless, anybody can take a screengrab of the email. Google says that even though this new feature helps in preventing the email receivers from forwarding the message, it does not stop the receivers from clicking screengrabs or pictures of the email’s content and files attached to it.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) digital privacy advocacy group, this feature is not as useful as it looks and it might deceive consumers into believing that it is robust. This feature lacks end-to-end encryption, which means that Google will be able to access the email’s content when it is being transmitted. Moreover, the emails, after self-destructing, can still be obtained from the sender’s mailbox.

Moreover, if users set the SMS password, then they may have to provide Google the phone number of the receiver. Therefore, users will have to give out private information to Google.

The company tweeted about the launch of the confidential mode. This feature has been added to offer additional data privacy. By enabling this feature, senders can also stop the recipient from accessing the email. The receiver shall have to key in a code for authentication. This code shall be sent via a text message.

Even if somebody hacks into the receiver’s email, they will not be able to see the contents of the private mail. But, if the receiver’s system is already contaminated or compromised, then the email’s contents will not be safe.

Marshall Lyne is a self-professed security expert; he has been making the people aware of the security threats. His passion is to write about Cyber security, cryptography, malware, social engineering, internet and new media. He writes for Norton security products at Webroot Support .

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