EMAIL PROVIDER Google has switched on encryption for all of its Gmail communications so users are protected from the prying eyes of cyber criminals and intelligence agencies like the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Gmail security engineering lead Nicolas Lidzborski announced in a blog post on Thursday that all Gmail messages will now be run through an encrypted Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) connection.
"Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 we made HTTPS the default," he wrote.
"Today's 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."
The HTTPS internet security protocol uses digital certificates to authenticate the identity of the web server a computer is communicating with and block man in the middle attacks. The protocol also encrypts data passing between the server and the client computer so, as Lidzborski claimed, the use of HTTPS should stop intelligence agencies from monitoring Gmail users' communications.
"Every single email message you send or receive - 100 percent of them - is encrypted while moving internally,"Lidzborski added. "This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centres - something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations."
Google is one of many companies said to have been targeted by the NSA with its PRISM programme. News of the NSA's PRISM campaign broke earlier this year when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to the press showing that the NSA siphoned vast amounts of customer data from many large internet companies.
Earlier in March, Google looked to improve its security services to reassure users by encrypting its search data using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
This news might give pause to Microsoft, which last year ratcheted up its Scroogled marketing campaign against Google by going after Gmail and highlighting the textual analysis Google employs on all emails to sell adverts, invading users' privacy.
Microsoft claimed that its Outlook email service does not analyse users' emails and Gmail users cannot opt out, and it pointed out that Google is facing six lawsuits in the US for alleged eavesdropping. µ
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