Https URL with token parameter : how secure is it

httpssecuritytokenurl

On our site, we provide to users a simulation based on their private information (given through a form). We would like to allow them to get back on their simulation results later, but without forcing them to create a login/password account.

We have thought of sending them an email with a link, from which they could get back their results. But, naturally, we have to secure this URL, because private data is at stake.

So we're intending to pass a token (like a 40 characters combination of letters and digit, or a MD5 Hash) in the URL and to use SSL.

Finally, they would receive an email like that:

Hi,
Get back your results on
https://www.example.com/load_simulation?token=uZVTLBCWcw33RIhvnbxTKxTxM2rKJ7YJrwyUXhXn

What do you think about it? Is it secure enough? What would you advise me for the token generation? What about passing URL parameters in a https request?

Best Solution

SSL will protect the query parameters in transit; however, email itself is not secure, and the email could bounce along any number of servers before getting to its destination.

Also depending on your web server the full URL might get logged in its log files. Depending on how sensitive the data is you might not want your IT people having access to all the tokens.

Additionally the URL with the query string would be saved in your user's history, allowing other users of the same machine to access the URL.

Finally and what makes this very insecure is, the URL is sent in the Referer header of all requests for any resource, even third party resources. So if you're using Google Analytics for example, you will send Google the URL token in and all to them.

In my opinion this is a bad idea.