Encryption may appear to be a subject best left to hackers and tinfoil hat wearers, but one should not be fooled: it’s an important part of modern life that everyone, especially business users, should understand. And one of the most important and misunderstood applications of encryption is in email.
TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is Google’s standard method of Gmail encryption. All messages sent through Gmail will be encrypted in this manner if the person you’re emailing also uses a mail service that supports TLS, which most major mail providers do. That basically means that no one will be able to look at a message while it is traveling from point A to point B. However, it does not guarantee that the message will continue to be private or available only to the intended recipient once it arrives at the destination mail server.
Client-side encryption (also known as E2EE by Google) was already available for Google Drive, Sheets, Slides, Google Meet, Google Docs, and Google Calendar users (beta). Gmail E2EE beta is now available for customers of Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard.
Gmail client-side encryption, once enabled, ensures that any sensitive data delivered as part of the email’s body and attachments (including inline images) cannot be decrypted by Google servers – the email header (including timestamps, subject, and recipients lists) will not be encrypted.
With CSE, content encryption is taken care of in the client’s browser before data is stored or transmitted in Google Drive’s cloud-based storage, explained Google. Google servers cannot decrypt user data because they do not have access to the user’s encryption keys. The user can select which users can create client-side encrypted content and share it internally or externally after configuring CSE.
Not all accounts will be able to access the feature. Users with personal Google Accounts or Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Business Plus, Business Standard, Frontline, Enterprise Essentials, and Education Fundamentals, Nonprofits, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers, are not yet able to access the feature. WebFans are super excited about the new features.
After receiving an email from Google confirming that the account is ready, administrators can configure Gmail CSE for their users by following the steps given to set up their environment, prepare S/MIME certificates for each user in the test group, and configure the key service and identity provider.
By default, the feature is disabled, but it can be enabled at the domain, organizational unit, and Group levels by going to Admin console > Security > Access and data control > Client-side encryption. Once enabled, the user can toggle on E2EE for a message by clicking the lock icon and on “Turn on” under the “Additional encryption” option. Users will then be able to compose their Gmail messages as well as add email attachments normally.
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