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Google to unveil Chrome plug-in for email services

Tech giant plans to make email encryption easier for layman

By Vinod

Google will soon unveil Chrome plug-in, based on the OpenPGP email encryption standard, which will enable end-to-end encryption for web-based email services.

At this stage the search giant has shared the source code with the community to test. Developers and security researchers stand a chance to win prizes for finding bugs, as the plug-in is covered by Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program.

Google says that the new plug-in will let anyone enable end-to-end email encryption "through their existing web-based email provider". This feature will allow the plug-in to be used across Gmail and other popular services.

The basic idea is to make encryption popular among mainstream users. Currently, when using Gmail or any other email service where encryption is enabled, browser extensions are required which can decrypt the messages. Unless the user has a fairly technical bent of mind, this becomes difficult.

There are various end-to-end encryption tools like PGP and GnuPG available in the market for a long time, which require a certain level of technical know-how. Because of this, a lot of users do not encrypt their messages, and it is precisely here where Google’s mettle will be tested as the kind of public key encryption that Google is using tends to be pretty complex to set up.

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