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How to Send Self-Destructing Sensitive Information to Someone via Email

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Have you ever sent private information to someone, maybe a family member needed your credit card number, and then regretted that you had ever done it. This can all be solved with a self-destructing link.

Note: We are not advising that you send private information via email or necessarily endorsing this service as a safe way to transfer any information. It’s a novelty and a fun geeky trick.

Creating The Self-Destructing Link

To get started head over to this website and click on the Create One Now button.

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This will take you to a text box where you can enter the information you want to e-mail to someone.

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You can go ahead and click on the Create Link button when you ready. Don’t worry your information is safe and is sent over an SSL Encrypted line from your web browser to their servers.

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This will give you a link that you can either manually copy to the clipboard, or you can click the link which will automatically copy it to the clipboard.

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Now you can draft your email as you normally would. You should add the link you were given in the last step somewhere in the email. It is up to you as to whether you would like the recipient to know that the link self-destructs or not.

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When the person received the email they can click on it to see the message you generated earlier.

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However, if they refresh the page or try click on the link again they are not able to see the information.

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The data is also stored in an encrypted form on their servers, and when someone views the unique URL that you send them; your encrypted message is deleted from their system.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 02/28/12

Comments (44)

  1. pluto

    There is a similar service to send file instead of test messages?

  2. Thane

    does this somehow prevent copy and paste on the recipients end?

  3. peter eliot

    But it is still possible to make a screenshot of the message.

  4. grognard

    Seriously?

    You’re so worried that you want to send a read once/ self-destructing link, but you’re just going to trust that website to properly dispose of your info and not sell it off to a Russian Spam/bot ring?

    If you believe that, I have $10M US Dollars to deposit in your account. Please reply with your name, address, social security number, checking account number, routing info, mother’s maiden name, and your shoe size.

  5. larry

    Agree with grognard. what’s with the “Don’t worry” in the article. are you intimately familiar with their setup. c’mon this is not like you guys.

  6. Forensic Penguin2

    seriously doubt if this is at all very secure.

  7. Dogleg

    Wow – $10M

    Kewl.
    Name – Michael Mouse.
    Add… Oh wait… :-(

    I Wont be rich after all!

    But to be honest if you were thinking of letting someone else have any sensitive details it might as well be on a “secure” website as well as the other person might just write the number down and leave it on a bus with other details….

  8. Joe Morgan

    I was taught years ago never say or write in any form…text, email, or im any thing you do not want recorded. That includes computers, telephones or any electronic recording device. Because it is all available to someone somewhere forever… end of story…

  9. wrussf

    I’ve used privnote.com for a while. You can have it send you an email when the recipient opens the original message.

  10. snooop1e

    I think the point is there is no record of the email on the email server and the recipient cannot inadvertently reply-to-all or fwd your message to people you didn’t intend to see it. Even if they cut and paste your text into an email there is no proof that it came from you. So in some sense it does provide anonymity or plausible deniability. How many times have you said something in an email that you only intended for one person and either accidentally hit reply-all or the person you sent it to inadvertently or intentionally sent to someone you didn’t want to see it? Thisi is very useful if you want to send an anonymous email to someone high up in your company. Lets say you are aware of some illegal or nefarious activity going on but you don’t want to be branded a “whistle blower” maybe you could send a self destructing email to the right person.

  11. jarry fletcher

    Something like this (or this) would be an excellent tool to collect sensitive data.
    You could assume that almost all the info would have some value to other people… saves a ton of weeding.
    Like FaceBook, this is probable owned and operated by the Department of Homeland Security.

  12. cleverblonde

    Hell, I can think of several comments that I’d like to send in an email to my soon to be exspouse that would selfdestruct after reading.

  13. anuvab1911

    This so confidential message can be viewed by them,if they want so they might be spying on extra-sensitive information.And since there is no official record with you that you used their service,they could misuse your information and you are left with no-one to take blame for your loss.

  14. Gary

    @ grognard
    Don’t you think Carl Rove would have loved this when he was sending political tactic information from the White House? He used a second account to bypass requirement that all email be recorded. You’d better believe operative are using non-public versions of this now.

  15. Bjarnovikus

    We are geeks, right? Or we are learning how to become one… why is there no tutorial here on how to create your own service of this. So you have full control about it… Just host a website on your network and create a system that any file can be viewed once. This is no geek-ish service for me.

  16. Taylor Gibb

    Sometimes i think you guys come here just to troll, no one is forcing you to use the service? If you dont want to trust it then dont, we said we dont advise you to send sensitive info via email at the beginning of the article. Oh and uhm your welcome to write your own service, go for it…… (you know its never going to happen)

  17. John Oh

    Come on Taylor. Trolls are not involved, but security is.
    Dont feel bad about the relative dangers on the Internet. Julain Assange said it himself. If youre on a computer youre being spied upon…..So the article isnt as safe as we could believe!

  18. Kei

    Whatever happened to telephones?

  19. John

    Just send all your confidential information to me, along with instructions of who can and who cannot access it. I’ll be happy to monitor that for you for free….. NOT!!!

  20. @Kei

    Phreaking happened

  21. tralfaz

    Absurd.
    Send me sensitive information and, unless both my arms and legs are broken and my mouth sealed shut, I’ll write it down. And don’t get me started on the trust issue with the software.

    Yet another garbage post from the HTG team.

  22. DNE

    It is an encrypted website and yes you should be weary of sending such information. But for those of you complaining about how unsafe this is please read the note again. Nobody is claiming this is safe.

    “Note: We are not advising that you send private information via email or necessarily endorsing this service as a safe way to transfer any information. It’s a novelty and a fun geeky trick.”

  23. JoAnnaBullhead

    what is the point of this?? You send your pin number.. they copy and paste it..or screen shot it.. and have it forever! Who needs to go back to the link?

  24. Dave

    DID NOT WORK

  25. Torwin

    I have a related issue which might be more plausible and useful, which is to build an expiry date into any document. (I have suggested this to MS a couple of times over the years, but without much hope). Along with the various information contained in the document header, such as date, author, file size and attributes, there should be a use-by date. The operating system should purge user documents periodically (or at Disk Cleanup / Defragmentation) by automatically moving any document past its use-by date to Recycle Bin. Set XX years for routine business records (whatever is the tax law in your jurisdiction) or whatever you want to keep your own personal filing system under control. Or to disappear in 48 hours for the scenarios suggested in this article.

  26. joe

    If you want to give your friend your PIN, call your friend over the [voice] phone and tell it.

  27. joe

    Yeah, some of those little boxes which do texts and tweets and surf the internet, ALSO MAKE PHONE CALLS!

  28. Lyall

    Most useful for sending sexy message to your girlfriend and you don’t trust her to delete it before her husband sees it.

  29. Keith Badeau

    It stated at the beginning of the article that it was a NOVELTY.

  30. Slomem

    @ tralfaz c’mon be reasonable. If HTG is producing such garbage why are you here and commenting ?

  31. THE Nigerian King

    I am the Nigerian King with $100M for yous.

    I you two send yours bank information ine box link fore payment.

    Don’t worry, I can’t see your personals. I will self-destruct when clicked.

  32. piotr

    I’m agree with GROGNARD. This is a stupid idea, there is more risk trusting in a website. I’d like to takethe risk with the recipient.

  33. pluto

    exist a similar service for send file???

  34. dev

    thanks…

  35. grognard

    Yeah, I hate those dang trolls, especially those old grumblers who espouse what should be common sense, such as:

    -smoking is bad for you
    -don’t drink and drive
    -don’t send sensitive information to 3rd parties on the internet

    Wish those people would just go away and let everyone prance around in rainbow-crapping unicorn land, so we can continue along obliviously making bad choices.

  36. caswm42

    I’m going to keep this short and to the point – BAD IDEA!!!

  37. RJ

    this doesn’t prevent the enduser from taking a screen cap of the info

  38. Geoff

    Just use PGP

  39. JD Rosen

    We need to figure out how to send email that causes the ‘recipient’ to self destruct.
    Does anyone have Bill Gates email address?
    Then we can Spam Monsanto.

    Monty Python vs. Monsanto.

  40. Firas

    Hmm.. there is Wikileaks & now Stupid leaks but not for Geeks !!

  41. Zero Dubby

    Then why don’t just send an encrypted message,,,,,??

  42. PINACO6734

    WoW…
    You people either need to learn
    A) to lighten up, some things in life Are still fun
    B) to kno when, who, etc to trust. Services like this, and many others that get bomb ratings, are Good For Something (i.e. see snooop1e’s comment)
    C) If you weren’t raised to take life with a grain of salt, believe, at most, half of what you see and a quarter of what you hear then learn it now. It is the best advice I had ever been given.

  43. Dingoboy

    Thing is, the error message says, “That URL has already been retrieved…” This means that it has at least made a note of the URL somewhere, else it would say, maybe, “No message from that address can be found. It may have been deleted from our system.” And which part of the address is it keeping while remaining able to accept subsequent messages from the same address?

  44. Dingoboy

    I send sensitive stuff split up between and from two emails (Gmail and Hotmail), and the rest via txt message.

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