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Gmail Alerts as to Unencrypted Emails

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By Peter Clarke, JD on November 17, 2015 8:59 AM

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Many people are nervous about the various perils lurking on the Internet. They want to be able to protect themselves and be secure when to comes to their personal data.

Frequent advice given is to make sure to change passwords often, use complex passwords, not open emails or attachments from unfamiliar sources, and to be careful about sending personal data from Wi-Fi hotspots.

But are these types of recommendations enough? For example, people still worry about emails they receive and whether or not those emails are encrypted.

Well, perhaps, now worry less or no more, At least if you send and receive your emails via Gmail. Why?

According to Tech Crunch, Gmail soon will warn users when they receive emails that are not encrypted.

In this post-Snowden era, more and more emails fortunately are encrypted. Indeed, it is estimated that more than 50% of emails sent from the outside to Gmail are encrypted, with more than 80% of messages outgoing from Gmail being encrypted. And, all Gmail-to-Gmail email traffic is encrypted.

Nevertheless, as these percentages show, it is still very possible to receive unencrypted emails from the outside into a person's Gmail account. Indeed, practically half of such emails are not encrypted. And, as we know, unencrypted emails are a much easier target for gaining unauthorized access to information.

Accordingly, as reported by Tech Crunch, Gmail is rolling out notifications to alert people when they receive emails from the outside that are not encrypted. With such a warning, it then is up to the individual recipient to decide whether or not to trust the incoming email and whether or not to open the email. And, at least, there will not be guessing in terms of whether the incoming email is encrypted.

All appropriate steps to make the Internet secure and to protect private data are laudable. Hopefully, the alert system being put in place by Gmail with respect to unencrypted emails will be beneficial for Gmail users.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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