Google will alert users when their emails are not secure

Sundar Pichai google mobile android chiefJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president in charge of Android and Chrome, speaks during a special event at Dogpatch Studios on July 24, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Google is launching a feature for Gmail users that will alert them when their communication is unsecure, according to a blog post. The changes come after the company published the results of a multi-year study into email security around the world.

In countries such as Tunisia, Iraq, and Uganda, email security is poor, meaning that messages arrive unencrypted. The Register reports that this is due to “STARTTLS stripping,” a process that forces email servers to send mail in plain text, which anyone can read.

The study found that emails are sent in plain text around 20% of the time in Lesotho, South Africa, 25% of the time in Iraq and a staggering 96% of the time in Tunisia. If the email is intercepted, anyone could read its content.

Google says that Gmail-to-Gmail communication in the affected countries is still secure but only 35% of all email servers successfully configure encryption that would protect users. The study does note that the number of encrypted emails sent to Gmail users has risen to 61%.

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