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Google uses new visual security cues to make Gmail safer for you

By Liu Hongzuo - on 11 Feb 2016, 10:41am

Google uses new visual security cues to make Gmail safer for you

Google will add two new security features to Gmail within this week. These new security measures are visual in nature, and they are designed to help Gmail users make better-informed choices when dealing with sensitive information over e-mail.

As seen here, the broken lock icon will show up if you're e-mailing someone who isn't secured with TLS encryption. It's up to you to deal with the recipient.

First, Gmail will notify the user with a tiny broken lock icon in the recipient field if they are sending an e-mail to someone who is not using an e-mail service that has TLS encryption. Clicking on the lock icon will pull up an alert that tells the sender about the risks involved when e-mailing someone without TLS encryption, with some suggestions on how to avoid doing so.

By default, Gmail encrypts e-mails exchanged with a protocol called Transport Layer Security. It is only effective if both sender and recipient of e-mails support TLS. Google’s findings show that 40 to 50 percent of e-mails sent between Gmail and other e-mail providers are not encrypted, so this new feature will be helping users decide if they should hold back from sending sensitive information via unsecured channels.

If the e-mail is from an unauthenticated source, there will be a red question mark where their company logo or default Gmail logo should be.

Next, Gmail will now use a bright red question mark icon for e-mails that cannot be authenticated by their system. As explained in their Help section, the authentication is important for users who wish to avoid forged e-mails claiming to come from banks or any other major service provider. This feature is designed to visually notify the user on the authenticity of the e-mail, and it should help the user be more careful when replying to, or clicking on links sent by suspicious senders.

Google stresses that not all affect e-mail is necessarily dangerous, and that the new features are designed to help Gmail users make safer decisions. It’s no surprise that this is Google’s part in Safer Internet Day 2016, just like their free 2GB boost to existing Google Drive users for completing a simple security check-up.

Source: Google Blog via Ars Technica

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