Google announced a new add-on for Chrome titled End-to-End which is planned to keep user’s data and personal information secure from third party entities. This appears to be a direct push against the NSA. Google also called out other industry juggernauts such as Amazon and Comcast for being poor providers of email encryption.
This add on is specifically designed for users who perceived the new Gmail encryption measures on Chrome to be somewhat lacking. Google is stating that End-to-End will ensure any data leaving one’s browser will stay encrypted until the recipient opens it to decode it.
Google Security and Privacy product manager Stephan Somogyi said that the Chrome End-to-End system requires “a great deal of technical know-how and manual effort.” Typical internet users don’t have these particular skills, meaning they rely on these services to be secure. End-to-end encryption isn’t a foreign concept. It is something that has been utilized for a long time now.
On Tuesday, Google released the source code for the Chrome add-on. The company is hoping technology buffs will be able to adequately test the program ahead of it’s official public release to ensure the code is solid. Monetary sums are being used as an incentive for said users to identify and exploit security bugs in the code to ensure the service will be as secure as possible.
The add-on will be publicly released on the Chrome Web Store once Google believes the code is strong enough. It is not a mandatory update, though it will be easily accessible for even the less experienced internet users.
Somogyi wrote in a blog post “We recognize that this sort of encryption will probably only be used for very sensitive messages or by those who need added protection. But we hope that the End-to-End extension will make it quicker and easier for people to get that extra layer of security should they need it.”
Google made Gmail HTTPS-only in March as an attempt to increase security. Doing so meant the service would no longer allow HTTP connections which are typically more insecure. Google stated that many other email providers have not been as secure as Chrome or Gmail when it comes to encryption. Google specifically called out Groupon, Pinterest, Amazon, Comcast and Verizon to name a few.
Google officially commented, “When you send or receive emails with one of these providers, these messages are as open to snoopers as a postcard in the mail.” However, a number of companies are beginning to follow in Google’s footsteps. According to the Wall Street Journal, Comcast are beginning to more heavily encrypt emails. All of these developments in security ultimately benefit internet users.