Gmail has come out with new security enhancements for their Gmail service. Yesterday on the Gmail Blog Ariel Rideout announced that Gmail will now support https to encrypt all mail traffic as it travels from your computer to the Gmail servers. Of course Gmail has always used https to secure our logons, as do most every other free email service, but now all of your transaction using the Gmail service will be encrypted.
This is technology usually reserved for banking and financial institutions, web services that deal with Personally Identifiable Information or Personal Health Information, and paid email service (to name a few). But for a free email provider this is a very nice feature!
The good: using https will protect your entire Gmail session from logon to logoff. All of your traffic will be encrypted between your desktop and the Gmail servers. This will protect you from snooping or eavesdropping hackers who are trying to steal your data/emails. This is especially important when using open or public Wi-Fi access points. Keep in mind, this is not email encryption, your individual emails are not encrypted, all traffic between your computer and Google is encrypted.
The bad: using https ‘may’ make your connection slower. This is due to the extra overhead (extra packets of data and time it takes to encrypt/decrypt them). I highly doubt anyone will even notice a difference unless you are sending/receiving very large files.
It may not be rolled out to everyone just yet so login to your Gmail account, click on Settings, click on the General tab, and scroll to the bottom. There you should see “Browser connection: Always use https”. Click that radio button and save your changes then click your refresh button. You will now see your url changed to https://. IF that setting is not available you can simply type 'https://mail.google.com' (instead of http://) and you will be able to take advantage of this feature now.
John "Mike" Wright