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This e-mail message will self-destruct in ...

Jennifer Kavur | June 3, 2010
Technology that promises highly secure, confidential and self-destructing messages over the Internet isn't only available to top secret intelligence agents.

TORONTO, 2 JUNE 2010 - Technology that promises highly secure, confidential and self-destructing messages over the Internet isn't only available to top secret intelligence agents.

Chicago, Ill.-based VaporStream Inc., which released its first demo of the VaporStream non-documentable e-mail service in 2006, has since designed an enterprise-ready version and patented the technology.

VaporStream gives users the privacy and confidentiality they would expect when they are not online, said Joseph Collins, president and CEO of VaporStream.

Collins likens VaporStream to a phone conversation. "VaporStream, in essence, is a record-less messaging system. Similar to a conversation like we are having over the phone, it allows us to have the conversation and once you see it, read it and reply to it, it's gone," he said.

VaporStream is typically used for negotiations and when the parties decide they've reached an agreement, they can send each other a traditional e-mail to become the official record moving forward, he said.

Like e-mail, VaporStream is text-based, but messages cannot be cc'd, forwarded, saved or printed. Messages are automatically deleted after they are read and stored in RAM to disappear without a trace. Conversations use 256-bit encryption and are transmitted over SSL.

As an additional security measure, the service separates the header and body of messages, so even if someone were to take a screen capture of a message, it would not display the "who, what, where and when" to make it a piece of information that could be referenced, he said.

The VaporStream Messaging Service (VMS) operates out of a centralized location, which is responsible for "routing, instant notification, keyword filtering, queuing and de-queuing the messages" for all users, states VaporStream's site.

The infrastructure is "housed in multiple Tier 1 facilities located in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago." All of the message servers are run in RAM and there are no hard drives connected to the servers, VaporStream states.

Users can access the service through Web browsers, plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook (2003 and 2007) and Lotus Notes, or mobile apps for the iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones.

Enterprises can deploy the VaporStream Enterprise Server (VES), which authenticates users through the VES into their Active Directory or Lotus Domino service. VaporStream says the messages "will never reside on the organization's internal servers" and "go directly from the VaporStream client to the VMS servers located on the VaporStream network."

The service uses the SaaS model. Pricing for individual accounts is US$7.50 per month and messaging requires both parties to use the VaporStream service. Enterprise pricing varies.

The pricing is actually "much cheaper than e-mail," said Collins. Licences for Microsoft Exchange can range from $5 to $10 per user per month and this doesn't take into account additional costs like servers, backups, archives and maintenance, he said.

 

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