Cybersecurity has been a hot topic as attacks intensified online, and digital safeguards continue to be top of mind heading into 2023. 

Google is well aware of the growing threats, with the company predicting an increase in identity-based breaches, insider risks, and ransomware attacks in 2023. To combat these escalating threats, it’s making changes to Gmail - expanding client-side encryption so users can better protect themselves from data breaches. 

Client-side encryption allows users to encrypt content from their own browser, before the data is shared or stored in Google Cloud. It’s designed to give users more control over their own data and render it indecipherable even to Google servers.

This level of encryption is being made available to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers who have until January 20, 2023, to apply for the beta version. 

That leaves standard business users without this feature, but there’s no need to panic if your account doesn’t qualify. If you’re not included in the release, there are some steps you can take to further secure your Gmail from hackers.

How to protect your data with Gmail confidential mode

Even if you use Gmail on a regular basis, you may be unaware that the platform has an ultra-secure setting for more security-conscious users. 

Known as ‘confidential mode’, this allows users to:

  • Set a message expiration date
  • Revoke message access - even after the email has been sent
  • Ask for a text verification code before the message can be opened

This protects you from accidentally sharing sensitive information via a stray email that’s sent to the wrong user or shared with someone it shouldn’t be. Emails sent in confidential mode can’t be forwarded, downloaded, copied, or printed.

Turning it on is easy but has to be done from the administrator’s account. Once logged in, go to Gmail and then User settings.

Scroll down to confidential mode, check the Enable confidential mode box, and save your changes. Your Gmail should switch over to confidential mode within 24 hours.

Superior security

While confidential mode doesn’t offer the same level of protection as client-side encryption, it’s still a valuable tool if your organization routinely sends sensitive emails to external parties. 

It’s ideal for companies in sectors that share and store personal information, such as healthcare organizations and financial institutions, but probably not as appropriate for those in comparatively low-risk niches like retail.

And bear in mind that Google continues to lead in the market in cybersecurity defenses, so if you’re not using either client-side encryption or confidential mode, you’re still enjoying cutting-edge security features.

Even in its standard version, Gmail provides the following:

  • Advanced encryption of all sent and received messages
  • Phishing protection with AI-enhanced spam filtering
  • Security alerts if Google detects suspicious activity
  • Optional Advanced Protection requiring security keys to prevent unauthorized access to your inbox

Google is investing $10 billion into improving its cybersecurity capabilities as part of an ambitious 5-year security plan. A significant share of this will be used to strengthen the company’s entire ecosystem, making it safer and more secure for users at all levels. As these efforts ramp up, it’s likely that client-side encryption will become more widely available, but until then, Google Business users should still be reassured by the fact that they’re using one of the safest cloud-based platforms available.

UpCurve Cloud has helped hundreds of organizations, from a range of industries, enhance their security with expert assessment and implementation of Google tools. Our Google-certified technicians can help you upgrade your existing security architecture to ensure it’s compliant with all applicable regulations and minimizes your exposure to threats. We’ll assess, investigate, and fulfill all your cybersecurity needs to offer you greater confidence and peace of mind when doing business online. Contact us today to learn more or arrange a consultation.

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