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Google grabs Gmail-using HTTPS refuseniks and coats them with SSL

You'll take this mandatory encryption even if the NSA can crack it

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Google has announced that from Thursday all connections to its Gmail website will be encrypted in transit using HTTPS – and messages will be encrypted when being moved around the web giant's data centers.

"Every single email message you send or receive - 100 per cent of them - is encrypted while moving internally," wrote Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail security engineering lead, in the company's Enterprise blog today.

"This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers— something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations."

Those revelations being the Edward Snowden-sourced leaks that the intelligence agencies NSA and GCHQ are intercepting and monitoring data center connections and the backbones of the internet worldwide. (It's feared the NSA has been able to compromise encryption systems such as SSL in some way or another, but every little helps.)

Gmail has always supported HTTPS connections, and turned them on by default in 2010. But users have, until now, had the option to switch the encryption off. Today's announcement doesn't just cover Gmail: Google Apps will also be HTTPS-only from now on.

Some Google customers have been avoiding encryption in case it slowed down the in-browser webmail service, but people familiar with the matter said that this is a tiny percentage of the user base. Google engineers have been working on making HTTPS more efficient and there should be little change in service speed as a result of today's change.

Google said in the blog post that it was also working on maintaining uptime and claims a 99.978 per cent uptime record, meaning that during the year, the average user suffered just two hours of screaming at their defunct browser before deciding to go down the pub. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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