Secure Email with Gmail

Lance describes an easy way to make sure Gmail connects and stays in secure mode throughout your email session.


Who you are:

A Gmail user who wants to improve the way you use email. (If you don’t use Gmail, ask me for an invitation to try it, then read my previous post about why Gmail rocks).

What you want:

A secure way to check your web-based email. By secure, I mean encrypted login (authorization) as well as secure reading, writing, and sending from any computer. This technique will work at home, the public library, or accessing a Wi-Fi hotspot with your laptop.

How to do it:

When you connect to Gmail, type in https://mail.google.com instead of http://mail.google.com. The s after the http stands for “secure” HTTP. If you launch Gmail with that extra letter, it will force the program to keep you locked into secure mode as long as you have it open in your browser. In most browsers you should see a padlock or green key to indicate that you are viewing a secure web page. In Firefox, I noticed that the address bar (where the https:// is) changes to a nice yellow background to show that it is securely connected.

Why it’s important:

If you access an email program over the Internet, chances are that the email traffic you are sending is not encrypted, and can be read by anyone who is willing and able to do so. Secure email is important at home and in the office; it is even more important if you are accessing your email from a public terminal in a library, or using your laptop at the local Starbucks. By securely logging in to Gmail, you will ensure your privacy. And it’s so easy to do!

Update your bookmarks:

The best way to remember this technique is to save it in your bookmarks or favorites. In your browser, find your bookmark for Gmail1. Edit the bookmark by adding in the https:// at the front, save it, and start using always-on secure email with Gmail.

Thank you to Steve Gibson of Security Now for this great tip.

[1] If you are using Internet Explorer, send me an email (so we can chat a bit about getting a better browser). For Firefox users, select Bookmarks file menu, then open Manage Bookmarks. Find the Gmail bookmark entry. Right-click, and select Properties. Then you can add the s after the http and save the bookmark. Test it to make sure it connects securely. Safari and Opera users, I am assuming you know what to do.

[UPDATE: fixed a bad link.]

Author: Lance Willett

My name is Lance, I am a blogger and web craftsman making high-quality, engaging, and user-centered experiences for people that use WordPress. México-born. Excellence Wrangler at Automattic.

4 thoughts on “Secure Email with Gmail”

  1. AJ, thanks for the Greasemonkey idea.

    I guess I am assuming that a lot of folks are not using Firefox as their main browser, so the “https” will work for them even in Internet Explorer, Opera, etc.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s