Google just announced that it’s rolling out a new feature to help keep your email messages more private.
The company has just released the code for a new tool that encrypts your emails until your intended recipient decrypts the message in his or her browser.
Encryption is a commonly used process of encoding messages so that it can’t be read by anyone but you — or whomever you decide to share it with.
When data is encrypted, the body of an email is changed from plain text to a string of unintelligible characters.
Information is typically encrypted while it’s being transferred to the recipient as an extra security measure.
If a hacker intercepts an email you’ve sent to your boss, for example, he or she wouldn’t be able to read its contents.
Google’s new Chrome extension called End-to-End encrypts information leaving your browser until the intended recipient decrypts it. The extension works the same way around too.
The app isn’t available in the Chrome Web Store just yet, however. Google is releasing the source code for developers to gain feedback from its community before it launches the extension commercially.
End-to-end encryption is different than standard online encryption, or link encryption, in that it can only be decrypted by an intended reader. The data stays encrypted for the entire duration of its journey to the reader.
With link encryption, data is periodically decrypted at each hop during its path to the recipient so that the router knows where to send the information next. Most data packets need to go through several routers to reach their destinations, and the term “hop” refers to this jump between different routers.
Google acknowledges that this technology has been available for a while, but it claims that its app will be much easier to use than other offerings:
While end-to-end encryption tools like PGP and GnuPG have been around for a long time, they require a great deal of technical know-how and manual effort to use. To help make this kind of encryption a bit easier, we’re releasing code for a new Chrome extension that uses OpenPGP, an open standard supported by many existing encryption tools.
End-to-end will work with any web-based email provider, but you’ll need to be working in Google’s Chrome browser to use it.
The announcement comes several week after VentureBeat reported that Google had been working on ways to make encryption easier to use in Gmail.