Google gives GMail always-on encryption
New feature closes security loophole
Google is adding a much-demanded feature to its email service that offers improved security by ensuring users get an encrypted connection each time they access their account via a web connection.
The new option means email sessions are automatically protected from start to finish with the secure sockets layer protocol even if a user accesses the account by typing http://gmail.com, rather than https://gmail.com/ (notice the presence of "https" in the latter).
The move helps protect users against a vulnerability known as sidejacking, which researcher Rob Graham of Errata Security warned against last year. It turns out the vast majority of websites drop the SSL protection as soon as a user has logged in. This allows attackers to snoop on web sessions over unsecured Wi-Fi connections even when a password was typed into a page during an encrypted session.
Google is one of the only services we know of that guards against this threat by offering start-to-finish SSL protection. But up to now, users ran the risk that a connection might inadvertently be unprotected, either because they forgot to type in the correct URL or the connect was reset.
To turn on the feature, open your GMail account, choose settings and scroll to the bottom of the page. In the section labeled "Browser Connection," choose the radio button that says "Always use https." Google warns the protection could slow down connections, so if you don't use insecure networks you may not want to bother. The offering doesn't appear to be available yet for Google Apps.
If only eBay, Yahoo Mail, MySpace, Facebook and the rest of the gang would follow suit.
First, thanks for this useful tip. I just changed my settings (and my wife's) to ensure we can sent items such bank info data to (for example) our son without being concerned about it being intercepted. (Google specifically says it is both to and from their servers). I notice that now my Documents and Calender data also go through a https: URL, so I assume these are encrypted as well. Very nice.
One curious thing: after I changed my Gmail account to https:, I logged out, opened my wife's (to fix it also), and got an https: connection there too. I checked and changed the setting anyway, but it seems that it did keep the secure connection once set on the other account.
I have no problem with the account NAME being transferred un-encrypted, that is closer to a public record anyway, and I don't get much junk e-mail on the account anyway, compared to my other accounts (work and an ISP).
I put this together from the goole secure pro user script thats been out there for some time now.
"Forces gMail, gCal, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Reader, Facebook.com, Posten.no, Psdata.no and Qxl.no to use an ssl connection. Read the instructions!"
Sorry Dan, but Ebay seems to be some of the same shitty thingie as facebook tho, theres also a facebook group, we want full ssl support in facebook or something. I've tried highlighting this problem for years now.
For me the greatest advantage of this Firefox addon is not so much switching all Google apps to https, but the fact that it stops your search data being sent to Google Analytics, and it strips out all those sponsored ads from the results pages! I am constantly surprised when people mention being annoyed by online ads of all sorts, but then I have Customize Google, Adblock Plus and Flashblock installed, and I have seen nary an ad in years! <:D