HTTPS Becomes the Norm for Gmail
Article by George Norman
On 13 Jan 2010
In the past, Gmail used https to protect your password from getting compromised. Gmail used https every time you logged in, then it switched to the regular http kind. Once inside your account, you could set it up so that Gmail always used https. Always using https meant that your computer had to do the extra work of decrypt incoming data and encrypt incoming data – which meant mail could become slower. On the upside, it meant that your mail was safe from prying eyes. When you accessed your Gmail account from public WiFi hotspots for example, you could rest assured that by having https turned on your mail could not be snooped upon by third parties.

That was the norm then – the norm now is for Gmail to always use https. You no longer have to specify the fact that you want to use https, Gmail uses it by default.


Gmail Engineering Director, Sam Schillace, comments: “We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there's a downside: https can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn't travel across the web as quickly as unencrypted data. Over the last few months, we've been researching the security/latency tradeoff and decided that turning https on for everyone was the right thing to do."

Https for everyone is being gradually rolled out as we speak. If you had already turned on https, then nothing will change for you. If on the other hand you find that having https turned makes your mail too slow, you can turn it off by selecting “Don’t always use https” from the Settings menu. Only those of you that use offline Gmail over http may be bothered by this change as it may cause some problems.

“Gmail will still always encrypt the login page to protect your password. Google Apps users whose admins have not already defaulted their entire domains to https will have the same option,” added Schillace.

Tags: Google, Gmail, Email, HTTPS
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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