Internet security is becoming increasingly important, and to help warn users if they're not using encrypted connections, Google has announced that it will introduce a feature in Gmail warning if an email has arrived over a connection that wasn't encrypted.
Gmail itself already uses HTTPS encryption as a default for connections between browsers and servers, but for a long time the standard for emails was to leave them unencrypted. This made emails easy to intercept.
"Many email providers don't encrypt messages while they're in transit. When you send or receive emails with one of these providers, these messages are as open to snoopers as a postcard in the mail," said Google in a blog post.
Despite this, over the last few years Google and other email providers are beginning to change this, as more than 62 percent of emails sent to Gmail addresses by other users are now being encrypted. Emails sent from a Gmail address to another Gmail address are always encrypted, and emails sent from Gmail to other providers are encrypted 82 percent of the time.
Unencrypted messages are a problem because they make for a great target for hackers. In a joint project between Google, the Univeristy of Michigan and the University of Illinois that studied how email security has evolved since 2013, it was found that 94 percent of messages sent to Gmail can now be authenticated, making it much harder for phishers to intercept messages. Despite this, researchers also found that there are "regions of the Internet actively preventing message encryption by tampering with requests to initiate SSL connections."
Given the fact that there are still plenty of email providers that do not encrypt emails by default, it's likely that most users will begin to see the warnings within the next few months. It's important to note that most providers, however, do encrypt messages, including Yahoo, Microsoft, and so on.