Have you noticed the recent flood of security and privacy updates and changes in how user data is used from the makers of the apps and applications you use? It seems the problems for Facebook have made enough waves that other companies are taking proactive steps to protect themselves from the same fate. You can also be sure that users are waking up and starting to take their privacy and data security seriously.
Among the latest is an announcement from Google that their Gmail email service is getting a major overhaul with security and privacy high among the improvements. With the updates estimated to impact 1.4 billion users, this is an enormous update in terms of the number of people impacted.
So, what features will the new and improved Gmail offer in the areas of security and privacy? Let’s look at those highlighted in a recent Hacker News article. These new features are grouped under the Confidential mode, something users can click on when they are dealing with content that is sensitive or private for them. Here are the key capabilities:
Self-destructing emails are communications the user can set to disappear from recipients’ inboxes after a specific length of time ranging from one day to five years. The user can also initiate self-destruct at any time even after the email has been sent. It would be cool if the emails in this category created a burning animation to mimic the self-destructing mission details in Mission Impossible.
Un-forwardable emails are sort of like the “Eyes Only” spy classification. These emails cannot be sent along to anyone else, copied, or printed although the recipient can take screen shots. Guess it could be for other eyes after all. Not sure how effective this might be.
And the third is requiring two-factor authentication (2FA) for the email. In this situation, the recipient cannot open the email without a code sent to them via SMS. Again, not sure how effective this would be in situations of extreme sensitivity given the state of security updates on mobile devices.
It is refreshing to see companies offering enhanced protection to users. Even so, anything offered free-to-use must have a revenue making capability and that will continue to be targeted ads and sale of personal data. Supplementing the actions by the companies themselves, people living in the EU and UK will soon see regulatory enhancements concerning the use of personal information.
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