Google Makes HTTPS For Gmail Mandatory - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
News
3/22/2014
09:26 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Makes HTTPS For Gmail Mandatory

Google no longer allows Gmail users to turn off HTTPS encryption. The move protects data going between Google's servers and users.

10 Great Google Apps Tips
10 Great Google Apps Tips
(Click image for larger view)

Moving to restore trust in cloud computing services, Google said Thursday that it has made encrypted HTTPS connections mandatory for Gmail.

"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," Nicolas Lidzborski, Google security engineering lead, wrote in a blog post.

The company turned HTTPS on by default in 2010. From then until now, users were able to disable it -- for the sake of marginal speed gains or compatibility -- but no longer.

Google has long been at the forefront of online security, partially out of necessity, because it is frequently targeted by hackers. It was one of the first online companies to introduce two-step authentication. And it says Google Apps for Government was the first set of cloud computing apps to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification from the US government. (Microsoft disputed this in 2011, and Google said Microsoft's allegations were false.)

[Take control of your privacy on Google. Read 5 Google Opt-Out Settings To Check.]

Lidzborski wrote that all messages Gmail users send or receive are now encrypted when moving internally. "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 centers -- something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations."

The revelations at issue are those that arose from the NSA documents revealed by Edward Snowden. They have called into question the security of cloud computing and have prompted some companies to reconsider their commitment to third-party hosting.

(Source: David Bruce Jr./Flickr)
(Source: David Bruce Jr./Flickr)

Mandatory HTTPS connections might secure data in transit between Google's servers and its customers, but it should not be mistaken for true end-to-end encryption. Google's Gmail algorithms can still read Gmail text to serve ads. And the company can still access Gmail messages if ordered to do so by a court or at its discretion, as Microsoft did recently when it looked through the communications of a Hotmail-using blogger to identify an employee who allegedly leaked Windows source code to the blogger. However, given the outcry over Microsoft taking such action without a court order, it's doubtful Google is eager to avail itself of the access rights it has under its terms of service agreement.

Lidzborski also wrote that Gmail was up and running 99.978% of last year, which works out to an average downtime of two hours for each user during that period.

Engage with Oracle president Mark Hurd, NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, General Motors CIO Randy Mott, Box founder Aaron Levie, UPMC CIO Dan Drawbaugh, GE Power CIO Jim Fowler, and other leaders of the Digital Business movement at the InformationWeek Conference and Elite 100 Awards Ceremony, to be held in conjunction with Interop in Las Vegas, March 31 to April 1, 2014. See the full agenda here.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Slideshows
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
Commentary
Preparing for the Upcoming Quantum Computing Revolution
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  6/3/2021
News
How SolarWinds Changed Cybersecurity Leadership's Priorities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/26/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll