Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I'm not aware of any technology that will do what you're asking; and in all honesty, I wouldn't trust any technology that did.

I would like to create a password protected file or folder which can be opened only once. It does not matter what software I need to use since I will have to obtain it anyway. It can also be one use only disposable memory stick; I really don't know how to approach this problem and any suggestions would be appreciated.

In this excerpt from Answercast #64, I look at the possibilities of locking down a file to be read only once.

Opening restrictions

Unfortunately, I have exactly zero suggestions for you.

I'm not aware of any technology that would allow you to do what it is you've described.

I also want to caution you. My biggest concern here is that what you've described could give you a false sense of security.

Files can be copied

For example, what if the one time a file was unlocked (from whatever technology you ended up finding), it was used to make a copy of the file? Well, that copy is no longer locked - and is available forever. The file that you gave them would presumably self destruct (or continue to be locked or whatever), but there are just so many ways that data that is visible, that can be unlocked even once, can be copied - that I'm really, really concerned that while you might think you're solving a problem, that problem isn't really solved.

So I would encourage you to go back and really try and understand exactly what it is you're trying to accomplish here. I'm not aware of any technology that will do what it is you're asking for; and in all honesty, I wouldn't trust any technology that did.

End of Answercast #64 Back to - Audio Segment

Article C5959 - October 25, 2012 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

3 Comments
AG Wright
October 25, 2012 1:43 PM

Too much mission impossible?

Michael
October 26, 2012 10:59 AM

This is possible (with one gotcha, see para below) and does exist. Basic concept is that software on a computer provides the DRM shell. It opens the file AFTER verifying the ID of the user AND phoning home to a remote server to check on the rules for that user and that file. Rules can be: open only x times, open only on this computer, open only until next Thursday and/or do not open unless the rules can be verified. Thus, there could be no off-line access allowed. One such product is at www.locklizard.com. There are others.

Of course, once a file has been opened and viewed, nothing stops the end user from taking a picture of the computer screen with a camera. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.

It doesn't have to be as rudimentary as a camera photo - various technologies exist. Basically if it can be seen - even once - it can be copied.
Leo
27-Oct-2012

Ken B
October 30, 2012 10:48 AM
I'm not aware of any technology that will do what it is you're asking for; and in all honesty, I wouldn't trust any technology that did.
I definitely agree with the second part of that statement, 100%. For anyone who might ask "why", just use your favorite search engine and look for "Sony rootkit", a horrendous problem caused by Sony attempting to copy-protect their CDs.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.