Encryption is the word of the week.
Google has made a new pledge to its users worldwide in an effort to reassure them that the Internet giant has their security and privacy concerns at the top of the agenda.
Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTP Secure (HTTPS) connection when users check or send emails.
This latest security feature for the popular email service follows up a similar move in 2010 when Google made HTTPS the default connection option.
Nicolas Lidzborski, who leads the Gmail security engineering team, explained in a blog post on Thursday that this move means "no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you're using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet."
Translation: the NSA shouldn't be able to "listen in" or read one's private digital correspondence -- at least on Google's servers, which were cited to be one of the secret pipelines for the NSA's previously-secret, now-controversial PRISM data mining program.
Google, among other tech giants noted as sources for the scheme, have repeatedly denied compliance while also lambasting the federal government for these actions.
But Lidzborski didn't hint further at any of this, focusing on Gmail's performance instead.
In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100% of them—is encrypted while moving internally. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers—something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.
He added that Gmail was available 99.978 percent of the time during 2013, which averages to less than two hours of disruption per user throughout the entire year.
Yet Gmail's 2014 didn't get off to the best start, with a widely-reported (at least on Twitter) outage in January, which affected users around the globe for more than an hour.
As demonstrated by the Google Talk and Sheets outage earlier this week, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company usually doesn't comment as to the cause behind these downtimes, instead referring users to the Google Apps Status Dashboard for further updates.