Google To Enable End-To-End Email Encryption, Highlight Good Email Security Practices

from the good-to-see dept

Back in December of 2012, we wrote about (and agreed with) Julian Sanchez's suggestion that Google should do end-to-end encryption of emails, even if it (only slightly) mucked with its advertising business model. The impact on overall security would be great (and this was before the Snowden revelations had even come out). As Sanchez pointed out, not only would this (finally) drive more widespread adoption for email encryption, it would create enormous goodwill among privacy advocates. About six weeks ago, we mentioned this again, when it was rumored that Google was trying to make encrypted email easier, though it was said that it wouldn't go "site-wide" on end-to-end encryption.

A new blog post on the Google blog* has now detailed at least some of Google's plans, including offering a new End-to-End Chrome extension that will make it much easier for anyone to send and receive encrypted email messages. This is a big step forward, and hopefully shows how serious Google is about actually encrypting messages, rather than leaving them open for snooping.

This announcement came along with adding a new section to Google's famed transparency report, entirely focused on email encryption in transit, which will hopefully increase the use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) from other email providers out there. In the initial report, Google notes that 65% of outbound messages on Gmail to other providers use TLS, while 50% of inbound messages use TLS (over the last 30 days). And, more importantly, it highlights who supports TLS... and who doesn't (Comcast seems to be a shameful leader on that front). With some transparency, hopefully it will lead more email providers to adopting TLS.

* For the sake of full disclosure, the author of the blog post on Google's site is an old friend of mine, whom I've known for nearly 20 years (I feel old), since long before he worked at Google. I had no idea he was working on this and actually haven't spoken to him in probably a year or two (because life happens). I didn't find out about it from him, but from people talking about it on Twitter.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2014 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TrueCrypt not open source

    I tried Linux. I really tried to like it. I tried to make it comfortable to use.

    My first week using Linux Mint I ran into the following issues:

    1. The login screen at operating system start would not take input. Every time I booted up I would have to use hotkeys to log back out, then log back in. The second time it would work.

    2. The mouse sensitivity was through the roof, making the system almost unusable. The system options had no sensitivity adjustment, and no mouse drivers were available anywhere to adjust it. Instead I had to create a set of console commands that auto-ran every time I booted into the system to manually set the mouse sensitivity.

    3. My Soundblaster card played all system and program sounds...except any sound played through the Linux version of Google Chrome. Nothing I could find online would fix the issue. If I wanted sound to play through Chrome, I would have to plug my speakers into my onboard sound. Disabling onboard sound in bios only disabled sound from Chrome completely.

    4. Only five out of the two hundred games I own on Steam play natively on Linux, and of those only two would actually run. WINE fixed some of the programs, which ran slower and required a minimum of an hour to research and set up, sometimes much longer, and sometimes they would never work.

    5. None of the free or paid Linux "Office" style programs are superior to Microsoft's offerings. They aren't bad, but they lack a lot of powerful features.

    I love the idea of Linux. But at some point I want to actually use my computer rather than search message boards for how to do basic stuff, like control sound output or adjust mouse sensitivity.

    My computer is custom built (by me) and I've been a heavy computer user since before Windows existed (mostly MSDOS). I remember having to create custom startup scripts for individual programs and fighting just to have basic functionality (ironically, things like the mouse and sound). I don't feel like going to back to those days.

    If I wanted absolute computer security, I could just not use a computer. At some point you have to give up some level of security for functionality, and right now (for me at least) Linux sacrifices WAY more functionality than I'm willing to give up.

    This is coming from someone familiar with programming, hardware, and advanced system tools. There is simply no way someone with less knowledge is going to be willing to put up with that poor of service for more than a week, not even for free. For all it's flaws (and it has many), Windows works. And it works without requiring a technical background.

    I realize my issues are not ones that everyone has or will experience. It could have been my version of Linux, it could have been my mishmash of hardware, it could have been a lot of things. The point is that the system was difficult to install and made a terrible first impression, and I really wanted to like it.

    I lasted about a month, then reformatted and reinstalled Windows, got SRT working to use my SSD as a cache, and ended up with a system that worked way faster than Linux without the hassle of a SSD system drive with a separate "install" drive, and all my hardware and software works pretty much out of the box.

    Linux just isn't there yet. Maybe it will be one day...but that day is not today.

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