Client Side Encryption

Google has announced that corporate users of its email service will soon benefit from a new security feature that should help prevent data from falling into the wrong hands.

As revealed at Google Cloud Next, the company’s annual cloud computing showcase, both Gmail and Google Calendar are set to receive support for client-side encryption (CSE). Under this system, data will be encrypted on the end user’s device before being transmitted to datacentre servers, which means not even Google will have access to the encryption keys necessary to gain access.

At a basic level, the new security feature will mean that emails composed in Gmail are readable by the sender and intended recipients exclusively. It will also prevent anyone from reading any messages that might be intercepted in transit.

CSE isn’t the same as end-to-end encryption (E2EE). Although both mean encryption at the source and destination, CSE gives ‘Workspace-admins’ the power to monitor users’ encrypted files.

Google says it has always used “the latest cryptographic standards” to encrypt data that lands on its servers, to ensure bad faith actors cannot gain access to sensitive info. However, the new system will give businesses direct control over their encryption keys and the identity management provider used to access those keys.

Until now, CSE has been available exclusively for Google Meet and Google Docs data, but in recognition of the importance of watertight security across the board, Google is now extending the feature to other portions of the Workspace productivity suite.

Separately, Google announced it is bringing data loss prevention to Chat, allowing admins to put in place controls that protect against leaks in real-time, and new data sharing options to Drive that will give businesses tighter control over how files are shared.

Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers can apply to sign up for the beta until Jan 20th, 2023. It’s not available to personal Google Accounts.

Is this move a good thing? Yes, Google Workspace apps are among the most-rated productivity tools. The suite has a broad range of services including Gmail. This move indicates Google have decided to up the security of Gmail with the addition of CSE. With more companies coming up with better security email options, Google’s move is a timely one.

Valkyrie believe vendors, social media platforms and service providers should be doing more to put security first when it comes to personal data. Everyone has the right to privacy no matter who they are, and companies should be doing a lot more.

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