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Gmail client-side encryption adds security for businesses

Client-side encryption (CSE), which Google first made accessible in beta mode in December, is now available for a variety of its Workspace applications.

Client-side encryption will enable business users to transfer data in the Gmail and Calendar applications in a way that only individuals within the organization and the receivers will be able to access or read, according to Google, which detailed the feature in a blog post on Tuesday. As the information is encrypted before it reaches Google’s computers, the company is not even able to read anything received or created using Gmail or Calendar. The brand claimed that this is simply another instance of how Google uses AI to its customers’ advantage.

Users can explicitly choose if they want the additional encryption within an email draught, which ups the security function provided by Google. Customers are able to exercise “sole control over their encryption keys—and, as a result, total control over all access to their data,” according to Google.

In October 2022, Google made other Workspace applications, such as Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slide, and Meet, compatible. However, TechRadar reports that the capability appears to be mostly opt-in at the discretion of businesses.

Google explained that Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, and Education Plus accounts instead than personal accounts are eligible for CSE for Gmail and Calendar. According to The Verge, the setup is more of an IT department’s responsibility.

Google has been working on CSE for Gmail since 2014, but as the company said, the function seems to be part of its most recent push into artificial intelligence, so it makes likely that some users are only starting to notice it now. Over 20 AI-powered projects will be released by Google in 2023, according to Google’s plans. But, other from its Bard chatbot that will function with the Google Chrome browser, specifics on the majority of these projects are still few.

Other businesses, like Apple, have included sophisticated encryption capabilities into their ecosystems, but they have faced varied degrees of backlash. For regular consumers, Apple offers Enhanced Data Protection for iCloud, an opt-in security feature that safeguards apps like iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photographs. Apple implemented the encryption function after discovering zero-day flaws in its system that the Pegasus spyware was able to take use of. The encryption protection for iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar is currently not the same.

Government agencies like the FBI stated to The Washington Post in December 2022 that user-only-access encryption can actually make users more susceptible to “cyberattacks and violence against children, drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism.” This is because it excludes companies like Apple from the security process by design.