Google launches client-side encryption for Gmail in beta

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Google has announced that businesses can now apply to try out client-side encryption for Gmail on the web.

Now available in beta for a selection of Workspace users, the feature is one that was promised some time ago. Google says that the new encryption option means that "sensitive data in the email body and attachments are indecipherable to Google servers", but there will be disappointment that the security and privacy feature is not available for everyone.

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Client-side encryption is already available for a number of Google products includes Drive, Docs and Meet, and the only real surprise here is just how long it has taken the company to give Gmail the same treatment.

Google explains:

We're expanding customer access to client-side encryption in Gmail on the web. Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers are eligible to apply for the beta until January 20th, 2022. [sic -- Google clearly means 2023]

Using client-side encryption in Gmail ensures sensitive data in the email body and attachments are indecipherable to Google servers. Customers retain control over encryption keys and the identity service to access those keys.

The company points out that client-side encryption is disabled by default and need to be enabled by admins. Users can then opt to encrypt emails and attachments on a message-by-message basis.

Google shares the following information about exactly who is going to be able to take advantage of the new encryption options:

  • Available to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers
  • Not available to 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
  • Not available to users with personal Google Accounts

If you are interested in taking part in the beta of client-side encryption, head over to the application form to start the process. Google says that it will be "accepting beta applications and allowlisting customers" over the next several weeks.

Image credit: EdZbarzhyvetsky / depositphotos

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