Skip navigation
App icons on screen.png

Google Boosts Gmail Security with Confidential Mode

However, experts warn that Google's new Gmail security measures lack end-to-end encryption.

Are Google's new Gmail security measures secure enough? Google regularly rolls out new features its productivity suite, but a new security upgrade has some wondering if the level of security offered is sufficient for enterprise users. As of the end of June, confidential mode is now the default state for G suite Gmail, as long as the administrator has enabled it. With this feature, emails can be sent with expiration dates, and senders will have the ability to revoke access and prohibit forwarding. A beta program was initiated in March, with the confidential mode by default feature available on June 25.

According to the company: “Built-in Information Rights Management (IRM) removes the option to forward, copy, download or print messages. This helps reduce the risk of confidential information being accidentally shared with the wrong people. In addition to protecting sensitive content in your emails by creating expiration dates, you can also require additional authentication via text message to view an email. This makes it possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active.”

The implementation of the feature has been criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for lacking encryption that would keep message content from viewing by Google.

“It’s important to note at the outset that because Confidential Mode emails are not end-to-end encrypted, Google can see the contents of your messages and has the technical capability to store them indefinitely, regardless of any “expiration date” you set. In other words, Confidential Mode provides zero confidentiality with regard to Google.”

The EFF offered similar warnings regarding expiration dates for Gmail. “Similarly, we believe that Confidential Mode’s option to set an ‘expiration date’ for sensitive emails could lead users to believe that their messages will completely disappear or self-destruct after the date they set. But the reality is more complicated. Also sometimes called ‘ephemeral’ or ‘disappearing’ messages, features like Confidential Mode’s ‘expiring’ messages are not a privacy panacea. From a technical perspective, there are plenty of ways to get around expiring messages: a recipient could screenshot the message or take a picture of it before it expires.“

More Updates

Dynamic email, which allows interactive content inside messages using Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP), moved out of beta and into generally availability for G suite on July 2.

Users will be able to respond to a Doodle pool for open meeting times, answer a questionnaire, or comment line, RSVP to an event or browse online catalogs.

“Take commenting in Google Docs, for example,” the company says. “Instead of receiving individual email notifications when someone mentions you in a comment, now, you’ll see an up-to-date thread in Gmail where you can easily reply or resolve the comment, right from within the message."

The feature will be made the default option, though G Suite administrators can opt in or out across an organization.

Also rolling out this summer will be the ability, in Google Docs, to compare two documents side by side to review changes and accept or reject changes, which are labeled as “suggested edits.”

Users start the process by choosing Tools, Compare  from the toolbar. Then, according to the company, “a new document will be generated that shows all existing suggested edits from both docs as accepted. Users will be able to see the differences between both documents as suggested edits labeled with the name defined in the ‘Attribute differences to’ field.”

Like dynamic email, the compare documents feature will become the default for users, without any action from admins.





TAGS: Security
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.