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Browse Prior Art Database

Secure method to control mail reading

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030905D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Sep-01
Document File: 2 page(s) / 43K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

In some cases, it is very important to have a certified proof that a mail has been read. The Read Notification is not very relevant to address this requirement. Indeed in a lot of cases, a message may have been read by the receiver, although no notification has been sent. For example : the POP3 or IMAP4 protocols allow to retrieve message from the Message Store, so that the sender receives the delivery notification when the message is delivered by the MTA, but it could take time to receive the read notification due to the fact that the message is retrieved on the receiver PC. The Receiver could read the message in disconnect mode. Nowadays, a lot of e-Mail clients are based on an interface displaying the list of messages and the message content displayed in another window. In this case, the receiver could read the message but without opening it, so the read notification is not sent.

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Secure method to control mail reading

The principle of the invention relies on a method which modifies both the User Agent (UA) of the sender and the MTA which controls the domain which the sender belongs to. So there is no impact at all on any resource (UA or MTA) associated either to the message recipient or to an intermediate mail system node.

According to this invention, the User Agent introduces a new mail header to request a read acknowledgement.

When the MTA server detects that a read acknowledgement has been requested by the sender, the following actions are done:
· The MTA generates a random key and logs it within a local repository. Any conventional scheme can be used to generate this random key, without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
· The MTA encrypts the received message body with the random key generated at the previous step.
· The MTA creates a self executable encrypted file which contains said received message body encrypted with the newly calculated random key, as well as an identifier to help retrieving the random key from the MTA server.

    The mechanism has to be transparent for the receiver, so it is an executable which is sent as an attachment in the message. When the user tries to open the attachment, the executable is launched and a connection is established with the sender MTA to retrieve the random Key associated to this mail in order to decrypt the body part of the mail.

2) Message Sent encrypted with a random key, Sto...