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Google improves security of Gmail connections

Posted: January 14, 2010 11:52 a.m.
Updated: January 13, 2010 11:47 a.m.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- In the wake of cyber attacks from China, Google has announced it will improve security for consumers connecting to its Gmail service over the Internet by encrypting data traveling to its servers, a move Consumer Watchdog called on the Internet giant to make more than a year ago.

"Good for Google, " said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate for the nonprofit, nonpartisan group. "This should serve as a model for email service providers like Yahoo!, AOL and Microsoft. They all should follow Google's lead."

Consumer Watchdog said Google should use encryption for connections to all its Internet-based services, not just Gmail.

The new security measures would not have prevented the sort of cyber attack that targeted Google from China. It does increase security to prevent third parties from snooping as information moves from a computer over a network to Google's servers. Google has offered SSL encryption using the https protocol as an option since 2008.

However, the default was for an open http connection. If a consumer's computer was on a secure network, there wasn't an issue. With the increase use of public WiFi connections it is a simple matter for hackers to intercept messages on such open networks.

Google said it now will make SSL using the HTTPS protocol the default mode for Gmail. Consumers will have the option to turn it off if they wish.

"This greatly improves security for average users, most of whom run services with the default settings," said Simpson.

Consumer Watchdog first called on Google to adopt HTTPS as the default in 2008.

Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.

This story is posted in The Signal's SCV Raw section. Click here for more information about SCV Raw.


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