From now on, Gmail users will be able to see whether their communications with other email account holders – whether Gmail or any other email service – is secured. If it’s not, there will be a red broken lock icon in the upper right corner of the message:
“Gmail has always supported encryption in transit using TLS, and will automatically encrypt your incoming and outgoing emails if it can,” noted John Rae-Grant, Gmail Product Manager. Google’s vocal and obvious preference for this option has also pushed other email providers (Yahoo, Microsoft, Comcast, etc.) to offer end-to-end mail encryption to their customers.
Still, not all email providers have implemented it, and Gmail is determined that this failing does not ultimately affect their own users.
Another change that has been announced is an obvious indication when Gmail hasn’t been able to authenticate the sender of a message. This will take the form of a red question mark in place of the sender’s profile photo, avatar, or corporate logo.
Seeing the red broken padlock and question mark won’t be a sure indication that the email in question is dangerous or fake. Still, Google hopes that it will make users stop and think about the implications of unsecured communications, and make them extra careful when checking unsolicited emails for any indication that they might be phishing emails.