Email Encryption

Discussion of the version of HanDBase that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch devices. This includes the synchronization conduits as well.

Email Encryption

Postby alexasha » Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:00 am

iPhone version introduced email option for the Handbase records. Encrypted fields are still showing in the email message, thus it may be dangerous to email those records. It is possible to encrypt the email itself?
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Re: Email Encryption

Postby dhaupert » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:40 pm

alexasha wrote:iPhone version introduced email option for the Handbase records. Encrypted fields are still showing in the email message, thus it may be dangerous to email those records. It is possible to encrypt the email itself?


Great question. First off, a few facts about the current state:

1. The emails sent are text emails.

2. If you're viewing a record, you can email the record while the data is still encrypted (assuming you're set to manual encryption). The email will show XXX in the field that is encrypted and the receiving party will have no way to decrypt the data, due to the fact that it's a text email and not some data file that requires a program to read.

3. If you're editing a record, the data is currently decrypted, but what will happen depends on what encryption mode you have set:
If you're set to encrypt marked fields on RECORD close, the record will be encrypted, and the email sent will show xxx for encrypted fields.
If you're set to encrypt marked fields in the entire database on DATABASE close, the database is still decrypted at this point, so the email sent will show the value
If you're set to manual encryption, it will likely be like the entire database option since it's not going to be re-encrypted unless you have specifically encrypted before sending.

So that's the current state and I believe the behavior should match the expected behavior. If someone wants to email database data that is encrypted, sending via a text email is not likely to be a possible solution. In iPhone v3.0 OS, they added the ability to send an email right from within an app, as opposed to switching to another app. This is something I plan on implementing in HanDBase soon, and it also gives the ability to attach a file- something we couldn't do before.

So if we want, we can in theory, make an email database option that lets you email one or more databases to another person. If they were encrypted, they'd be encrypted on the database file being sent since this would be done from the choose database screen. The challenge lies in the receiving end- if you're sending the file to another iPhone user, the email program there won't know how to associate the data with HanDBase. Since the iPhone is not an open system like Mac OS X or Windows, the email program can't assign file types to certain applications. There is a possible workaround using a web server though- for example, when you send someone a database, it could actually send it to a DDH server, and then we'd email the user that it's available for download. When we do this, we can create a special link that safari and the email program know means download using HanDBase. But this means us having to host a server and handle receiving of incoming files, something that is non-trivial with all of the possible hacking and such. It also means that your database is going to reside on a server for some time, something users with private databases may not like either.

So as you can see I've already given this lots of thought- just still trying to find the best solution for this in the future!
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