Google beefs up Gmail security to keep your emails private

Gmail is safer than ever. Photo: Jay Wennington/Unsplash

Gmail is safer than ever. Photo: Jay Wennington/Unsplash

As Apple fights to keep the FBI out of our smartphones, Google is making our emails even more secure.

The company today confirmed a number of new protections for Gmail users, including stronger encryption, better notifications, and more.

Back in February, Google introduced new visual identifiers to Gmail that make it easier to weed out spam messages that could be trying to scam you, and provide a warning when you’re composing an email to a recipient whose mail provider doesn’t support TLS encryption.

Since that change, “the amount of inbound mail sent over an encrypted connection increased by 25%,” Google says. “However, as our recent research with the University of Michigan and University of Illinois shows, misconfigured or malicious parts of the Internet can still tamper with email encryption.”

To bolster that encryption and make it harder for hackers to crack it, Google has teamed up with Comcast, Microsoft, and Yahoo to devise the IEFT specification for “SMTP Strict Transport Security.” Using this standard, companies can ensure mail is only delivered through encrypted channels.

This could prevent emails from being intercepted, which would stop sensitive data from making its way into the wrong hands. Google wants to cut down on user error, too.

With Safe Browsing, the company already presents users with a warning when they stumble upon dodgy websites and potentially dangerous links. Starting this week, similar warnings — like the one below — will appear when users click these links in their emails.

Finally, Google is implementing enhanced warnings for state-sponsored attacks. It has been offering these in Gmail since 2012, and although they’re rare — fewer than 0.1 percent of users ever see them — they are important, and at the moment they can be easy to miss.

As of now, those warnings now take up the entire page, so there’s no chance you won’t see them.