Email can form a long incriminating trail of evidence, so you should also delete your email regularly and shred your email message directories. Since this can be a nuisance, several companies have come up with self-destructing email. The idea is that after a certain amount of time, the email message either shreds itself (using a secure file-shredding method that can defeat ordinary undelete programs) or encrypts itself so it can’t be read after a certain date.

Omniva (http://www.disappearing.com) offers a unique self-destructing version of email. When you send a message to someone and run the Omniva Policy Manager program, you receive a unique encryption key from the Omniva Access server. Using this key, you can encrypt your message and send it out on the Internet. When someone wants to read your email, the email has to get the encryption key from the Omniva Access server, which opens the message.

However, once the expiration date of the message has passed, the Omniva Access server destroys the encryption key needed to open the message, effectively locking out anyone who tries to read the message ever again. In this case, the email isn’t physically destroyed, but is rendered useless.

Another company that offers self-destructing email is Infraworks (http://www.infraworks.com), which offers a program called InTether. The InTether program consists of a Receiver and a Packager. To send a file (text, video, audio, etc.), you encrypt it using the Packager program. To read, view, or hear the file, another person needs the Receiver program. After a specified date, or after someone opens the file a certain number of times, the Receiver package can delete and shred the file.

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