Google adds warning to unencrypted emails

Users will also be told when they may be conversing with someone who is not a real person

Google has a pair of new security features that will warn users in cases when they should be cautious about revealing sensitive information over email.

Users will be shown a small red unlocked padlock icon in the upper right-hand corner of a message to let them know that someone they're sending messages to or receiving email from doesn't support TLS encryption that would keep information from prying eyes in transit. 

Odds are, the overwhelming majority of email that users see on a regular basis likely won't contain one of these warnings, as most major email providers like Microsoft and Yahoo already support TLS encryption.

But Google's move might pressure other email providers -- especially companies that run their own email servers -- to set up encryption in order to clear that check.

In addition to the encryption warnings, Google will also show a question mark in place of a profile picture for emails sent by people whose identities Google can't authenticate. It's designed to help people avoid phishing emails that claim to be from a domain like bankofamerica.com, but can't be verified.

Google pointed out that not all of the emails that generate these warnings will actually be dangerous or untrustworthy, but the new features are designed to remind users to take care with what information they transmit. 

The new warnings will be available to consumer Gmail users Tuesday, and will roll out to Google for Work customers over the coming weeks. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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