Google Encrypts Gmail to Protect Users from Unwanted Snooping

Google has just increased security for its users by enhancing their Gmail services’ encryption. Starting yesterday, Gmail “will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when users check and send their email.”

An illustration of two Gmail users sending encrypted messages

Image from WonderHowTo

In the announcement cross-posted on the official Google blog and the official Gmail blog, Gmail Security Engineering Lead Nicolas Lidzborski says the change “means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers-no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.”

He also adds that 100% of the messages users send or receive are encrypted when moving through Gmail’s servers and Google’s data centers. They say that this protection was “something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.”

This is probably the most important part of the change, because when they say “last summer’s revelations,” they’re referring to how the NSA has been secretly tapping Google’s and Yahoo’s foreign data centers to mine information from them directly. At the time of the revelation, Google released a statement that said they were “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

Lidzborski ended his announcement with a reminder that Gmail was available 99.978% of the time in 2013, and that their support teams and engineering experts are available 24/7 should any issues arise. He also includes links to additional tips to help users stay safe online, including how to create strong passwords and enable 2-step verification when logging on to a Google account.

This type of effort to protect user data is something all online service providers (especially email providers) should do. As TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm says: “If [NSA] won’t keep their damn hands off our stuff, we can make sure at least that what they steal they can’t read.”



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