Google’s secure email system coming soon

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Google’s End-to-End secure email tool is a great idea – will it force Microsoft to improve Outlook?

Google has announced an upcoming tool ‘End to End‘ which promises a way to send and receive encrypted emails from within a Chrome browser using web-based email systems (apparently not just Gmail).

That is a great move which hopefully will make email encryption available to many more people than at present. At present, making your email messages secure all the way from your computer to the receiver is possible but made unnecessarily complex. Microsoft Outlook is glaringly lacking proper and useable email encryption.

Email encryption is a way to ‘scramble’ an email on your computer before it is sent. Only the receiver should be able to ‘unscramble’ the message to make it readable again. The scrambled message is almost impossible to read by anyone snooping on the email ‘in transit’ or stored in cloud email storage.

Ahem – our book Privacy and Security in Microsoft Office specifically covers, step-by-step, how to setup Outlook for proper secure email. And that’s just a part of the topics covered in the book.

Google’s End-to-End will use OpenPGP to encrypt emails. OpenPGP is an open source encryption system that many email systems support but not Outlook. There are add-ins to provide OpenPGP support for Outlook.

The main alternative is S/MIME which Microsoft Outlook includes in a very clumsy and difficult form. Email encryption is one of those ‘tick the box’ features in Outlook. Strictly speaking, there is encryption support in Outlook but it’s so difficult to setup and use that most people don’t bother.

Microsoft has done nothing to improve the usability of email encryption for many versions of Outlook. Hopefully Google’s End-to-End initiative will force Microsoft to make overdue improvements to Outlook.

Even if you never use Google products, Microsoft Office users should be grateful to Google. Their innovations have forced Microsoft to add features and open up Office in ways Redmond would not have done without competition.

Hopefully proper email encryption will be the next area for improvement.

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