How to encrypt your Gmail email (with pictures)
Gmail is one of the most widely used email services. Gmail is the second most used email client worldwide, according to almost 1 billion emails opened.
Google Workspace is end-to-end to its email platform. They have not fulfilled their promise.
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If you’re a business that is in a regulated sector, there are still options to encrypt your messages. Below are the instructions on how to encrypt Gmail’s email account.
1. Use Gmail confidential mode
Google has recently launched Gmail Confidential Mode, which allows users to send and receive confidential emails.
The compose window offers the option to activate confidential mode at the bottom right. This gives senders several options:
- You can set an expiration date to ensure that the email you send is not readable beyond a certain time.
- To read an email, you will need an SMS passcode
- You can disable copy, paste, download, and print, as well as forwarding, of an email
This may sound like a great “free” option, but it doesn’t scale well for certain reasons.
- This requires the sender to take extra steps
- To set up an SMS passcode, the sender must know the recipient’s mobile phone number.
- To view the email, the recipient must take additional steps
Because emails are not encrypted from the end, Confidential Mode can expose your messages to Google.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which helped bring these concerns to the forefront, wrote more about them.
1. Allow S/MIME in Google Workspace
S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), supports encryption in transit. If it can, it will encrypt your outgoing email.
be enabled by both the sender AND the receiver to work.
Once S/MIME has been enabled, both the sender AND the recipient will need to exchange information known as “keys” to uniquely identify one another.
After you’ve got all the details sorted out, here’s how to use S/MIME for encrypted messages
- Write a message the same way you would normally.
- Add a recipient in the “To” field.
- A lock icon will appear on the right side of the recipient. The level of encryption your recipient supports will determine the icon.
- The icon will display the lowest encryption level depending on the encryption level of multiple recipients when you send a message.
- To change your S/MIME settings, or to find out about the encryption level of your recipient, click on the lock and then “View details”.
There are several steps you can take to verify that a message received was encrypted.
- Send an email.
- Click on the down-arrow to the right of the recipient’s list.
- To determine the encryption level of the message, look at the colored lock.
S/MIME encryption levels
Three colors are used to represent encryption levels: red, gray, and green.
- Green indicates that your data is protected with S/MIME enhanced encryption. Only the recipient can decrypt the email using the private key.
- Gray indicates that email was sent only with TLS encryption. This indicates that the message was encrypted between servers. However, TLS (Transport Layer Security), only works if both sender and receiver support TLS.
- Red indicates that there was no encryption. If this is the case, you should not send any personal information until your email encryption can be secured.
SecureGmail is a Google Chrome Extension by Streak. To activate the extension, you must first install it from Chrome Web Store.
If you see a lock button beside the compose button, you will know if the extension works.
Click on the lock button to create an encrypted email. You must click that tiny icon to send sensitive information via unencrypted mail.
Click on the lock to see two changes
- The header will display the word “Secured” and a lock symbol alongside “New Message”.
- The “Send” button will be replaced by “Send Encrypted”.
After you hit “Send Encrypted,” you’re not quite done yet.
An alert will prompt you to create a password for the recipient to decrypt your email.
You will need to share your password with your recipient, as they will only get the password hint with the email.
SecureGmail allows for end-to-end encryption. However, the recipient will need the SecureGmail extension to decrypt the email.
SecureGmail can only be used with the Google Chrome browser. Recipients who use another browser on their smartphone or laptop will not have access to the email.
3. Firefox allows you to encrypt Gmail messages
Firefox can encrypt emails even if you don’t use Google Chrome. To activate the Encrypted Communications Firefox extension, simply add it to your browser and restart your browser.
This Firefox extension allows you to encrypt Gmail emails with this Firefox extension
- Send an email
- Right-click on the “Encrypt Communication” option and choose “Encrypt Communication”.
To allow your recipient to open encrypted email:
- They will also require the Encrypted Communication plugin
- Right-click the message and choose “Decrypt Communication”.
- Enter the password you have been assigned.