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Sender-Specified Control of Allowable E-mail and E-mail Content Actions

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000130443D
Publication Date: 2005-Nov-09
Document File: 1 page(s) / 29K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Once an e-mail message has been sent, the sender loses all control over the message and must trust that the recipient will handle it and its content appropriately. The sender has no guarantee that the recipient will not forward the message to a third party or will not copy the content of the message and make it publicly available. How can the sender ensure that sensitive (e.g. top-secret) messages are not forwarded or their content copied and distributed without his permission? The actions that can be performed on an entire message that would allow the recipient to further distribute it are Reply, Reply to All, and Forward. The sender would specify through an “allowed message actions” attribute which of these actions the recipient is allowed to perform and which the recipient is not. The recipient would only be able to Forward the message if the sender allowed it. Similarly for Reply to All and Reply. The actions that can be performed on message content that would allow the recipient to further distribute it are Copy and Cut. Similarly, the sender would specify through an “allowed content actions” attribute which of these actions the recipient is allowed to perform and which the recipient is not. The recipient would only be able to Copy or Cut message content if the sender explicitly allowed it. Both the “allowed message actions” and “allowed content actions” attributes are specified in the signed attributes section of the message (for SMIME message). The attributes are signed by the sender and are enforced on the recipient if and only if the signature is verified, thus the invention applies to secure (e.g., S/MIME, PGP) messages only. Note that if the attributes are not signed then a denial of service attack is possible. A recipient that does not support restrictions on message and content actions will ignore the corresponding message attributes. A recipient who receives an action-restricted message and supports action restrictions would check the corresponding message attributes and their signatures every time a message is opened and enforce the restrictions specified therein. The two action restriction types can be combined so that, for example, a message may be forwarded but its content may not be copied or cut. This particular example would prevent someone from being quoted out of context.

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MESSAGE ACTION PERMISSIONS

Sender-Specified Control of Allowable E-mail and E-mail Content Actions

Disclosed Anonymously

Once an e-mail message has been sent, the sender loses all control over the message and must trust that the recipient will handle it and its content appropriately.  The sender has no guarantee that the recipient will not forward the message to a third party or will not copy the content of the message and make it publicly available.

How can the sender ensure that sensitive (e.g. top-secret) messages are not forwarded or their content copied and distributed without his permission?

The actions that can be performed on an entire message that would allow the recipient to further distribute it are Reply, Reply to All, and Forward.  The sender would specify through an “allowed message actions” attribute which of these actions the recipient is allowed to perform and which the recipient is not.  The recipient would only be able to Forward the message if the sender allowed it.  Similarly for Reply to All and Reply.

The actions that can be performed on message content that would allow the recipient to further distribute it are Copy and Cut.  Similarly, the sender would specify through an “allowed content actions” attribute which of these actions the recipient is allowed to perform and which the recipient is not.  The recipient would only be able to Copy or Cut message content if the sender explicitly allowed it.

Both the “allowed message actions” an...