Gmail – Securing Your Mails from Stalkers and NSA Alike

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Google has been in the news for constantly reinventing its e-mail services, be it your inbox themes, mail category tabs, free 15 GB memory for all those conversations you just can’t delete, or the Facebook like feature of sending mails to Google+ contacts rather than to their Gmail addresses.

This time, the engineers at Google have set their coding prowess towards security issues. Propelled into the public realm thanks to the Edward Snowden revelations of spying on personal information by government agencies, the feature of e-mail encryption couldn’t have been timed better than right now, if not sooner.

Google unveiled its Chrome browser software in the form of a test version tool, named “End to End”, that scrambles mails such that it can be viewed clearly by the sender and the recipient but appears as encrypted codes to any other host. It was made open to engineers over the Internet to work on the software and create programs that can be used as plug ins on the Chrome browser and serve the same purpose.

What Is the Data behind It

A Transparency Report prepared by Google published statistical information about the percentage of mails protected through encryption in Gmail and its comparison with other mail service providers. While Google has a 69 percent standing in terms of encrypting outgoing emails, other mail services were lagging behind Gmail in the same parameter by 21 percent. To top that, the Google coders were also able to unscramble the encrypted messages of other mail service providers, thus exposing the fallacies of other services.

What’s Next

Though this move has generally been well received, it rings the bell of competition among the various service providers now competing to launch similar features and extend the same blanket of security to their users. What remains to be seen is how effective this plug in proves to be, along with the response it garners among the public at large. Gmail already seems to have made its mark in the virtual society by definitive features that make the mail user experience as refreshing as a long drive on a smooth road. Some features, like video calling on Google+ and Messenger, pop out tabs or boxes for compiling mail and chat, and editing/ deleting/saving mails, all from the comfort of the same Inbox page have been well received; other features like sending mails to Google+ contacts without the use of email address stirred controversies.

While protection of privacy is a clause added in the Terms of Services for any service providers, Google has stepped up the game by floating the idea of this “End to End” software tool, which may end up serving as the answer of the technical community to the snoopers -of the government or otherwise.

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