All Gmail Traffic Now Fully Encrypted, Google Says

All messages through Google's e-mail service will be encrypted to protect the privacy of senders and recipients, the technology giant announced this week.

Google didn't mention the National Security Agency or increasing concern about government monitoring of civilian communication and Internet use, but the announcement of automatic HTTP encryption is likely a response to recent revelations by major media organizations about U.S. domestic spying efforts.

Safe Transit

"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," said Nicolas Lidzborski, Google's Gmail security engineering lead, in a post on the company's official blog Thursday.

The New York Times in August reported that the NSA had access to "vast amounts" of Americans' e-mails and other communications, such as text messages, and routinely searched for keywords that might provide links to terrorists. Thus it would not only affect those who might have been communicating with people on government watch lists but even those who cited names and other information. The revelations came about as an apparent result of information leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is a method that increases security by layering one type of protocol over another and is effective against so-called man-in-the-middle attacks because it authenticates Web sites and servers.

Lidzborksi's blog post noted the progressive level of encryption used by Google in the last few years. "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 Wi-Fi or logging in...

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