After the recent hacking incident in China, it’s no wonder that Google is looking for ways to increase overall security across its platform. Since 2008 Google has made available the option to always use HTTPS or SSL when accessing your Gmail account. However this was not the default configuration. On Tuesday night Google made the switch and now all Gmail accounts will automatically be set to use HTTPS or SSL when being accessed over an internet browser.
You may wonder: “Why didn’t Google do this in the first place?” The simple answer is speed and cost. When browser traffic is SSL encrypted, it puts more load on your browser, the Website it’s accessing, and overall latency and speed since SSL traffic cannot be compressed and accelerated as easily as HTTP traffic. Add onto that the high cost of SSL certificates which Websites need to install. So offering HTTPS or SSL for free to the 200+ million Gmail users doesn’t come cheap. Alma Whitten, Google Security Software Engineer, stated in his article on https security for web applications:
We know HTTPS is a good experience for many power users who’ve already turned it on as their default setting. And in this case, the additional cost of offering HTTPS isn’t holding us back. But we want to more completely understand the impact on people’s experience, analyze the data, and make sure there are no negative effects. Ideally we’d like this to be on by default for all connections, and we’re investigating the trade-offs, since there are some downsides to HTTPS — in some cases it makes certain actions slower.
What is HTTPS?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an encryption method commonly used to secure communication over the Internet (normally in browsers like IE or Firefox.) HTTPS encrypts the network connections and payload between browser and web server. In short, it’s the method Companies use to secure the communication between their website and the end users accessing their site with a browser.
So, after all we’ve heard and read, do you feel secure about your email account on Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo! etc.??