Google announced on Friday that it’s adding end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to Gmail on the web, allowing enrolled Google Workspace users to send and receive encrypted emails within and outside their domain.
The company says that the feature is not yet available to users with personal Google Accounts or Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Education Fundamentals, Frontline, and Nonprofits, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.
Client-side encryption (as Google calls E2EE) was already available for users of Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Google Meet, and Google Calendar (beta).
Once enabled, Gmail client-side encryption will ensure that any sensitive data delivered as part of the email’s body and attachments can not be decrypted by Google servers.
“With Google Workspace Client-side encryption (CSE), content encryption is handled in the client’s browser before any data is transmitted or stored in Drive’s cloud-based storage,” Google explained on its support website.
“That way, Google servers can’t access your encryption keys and decrypt your data. After you set up CSE, you can choose which users can create client-side encrypted content and share it internally or externally.”
Gmail E2EE beta is currently available for Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers.
They can apply for the beta until January 20, 2023, by submitting their Gmail CSE Beta Test Application which should include the email address, Project ID, and test group domain.
After Google emails back that the account is ready, admins can set up Gmail CSE for their users by going through the following procedure to set up their environment, prepare S/MIME certificates for each user in the test group, and configure the key service and identity provider.
The feature will be off by default and can be enabled at the domain, organizational unit, and Group levels by going to Admin console > Security > Access and data control > Client-side encryption.
Once enabled, you can toggle on E2EE for any message by clicking the lock icon next to the Recipients field and clicking “Turn on” under the “Additional encryption” option.
You can then compose your Gmail message and add email attachments as you would normally do.
“Google Workspace already uses the latest cryptographic standards to encrypt all data at rest and in transit between our facilities,” Google said.
“Client-side encryption helps strengthen the confidentiality of your data while helping to address a broad range of data sovereignty and compliance needs.”