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Confidential Mode: How To Keep Email Recipients From Forwarding Sensitive Information

I send top secret, highly sensitive emails all the time.

(slightly kidding) Most of my emails are humdrum, terse, and routine. But, when I do get into sensitive communications, I use Confidential Mode in Gmail. Confidential Mode stops the recipient from forwarding, copying, printing or downloading the message. You have the option to send as a passcode protected message, confirmed by the recipient’s mobile number. This type of message can also be set to disappear after a certain period (or sooner). While we might not be able to stop someone from taking a screenshot or a physical photo of their screen, this is the next best practice for email security optimization.

To use this feature, find the lock and clock icon at the bottom of your draft and turn it on before sending. At this point you’ll have a couple of decisions to make:

  • Choose how long you want the message to last before expiring.
  • If you choose "No SMS passcode," recipients using the Gmail app will be able to open it directly. Recipients who don't use Gmail will get emailed a passcode.
  • If you choose "SMS passcode," recipients will get a passcode by text message. Make sure you enter the recipient's phone number, not your own.

Confidential Mode

How Does Confidential Mode Work?

When you send with Confidential Mode turned on, Gmail includes the message body and attachments in a link (the content the recipient sees). For Gmail users, linked content looks like the message itself. Users with other email platforms see a link or button in place of the content.

Non-Gmail RecipientCM-1

Gmail Recipient

A couple of things to note:

  1. This feature needs to be enabled by the G Suite administrator.
  2. Confidential Mode is not the same as email encryption. For that, Cloudbakers can help you evaluate other tools across our large network of partners. We’ve vetted them and tested to make sure that we recommended the best solution for our clients’ unique environments.

We love G Suites Confidential Mode for sending passwords to shared logins or accounts over email, sending sensitive information, setting expiration dates to provide a sense of urgency and having more control over what you are sending. No third party tools required, it just lives right in your Gmail.

Originally published on May 07, 2020

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