Google has gotten a fair amount of phrase over the updated GMail redesign that was made available for users to begin testing yesterday. GMail has adopted a modern re-design that is simply stunning. Aside from the re-design, Google has introduced a few new features such as smart replies, integration with Keep and other Google Applications and self-destructing messages. Sadly one feature that is missing is one that has been requested for years – Native OpenPGP support!
Before I dive a bit deeper into this rant, let me briefly explain what PGP is and how it works. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and has been one of the leading standards for encryption and verification. Unlike other encryption standards, it is up to the users to generate, secure and store their own “Private Keys” while the “Public Keys” can be shared or uploaded to Keyservers. You can even revoke your keys if they are compromised. You are always in control of your data.
Here is a brief video that explains it a bit better
You can even download my Public Key and send me secure messages by visiting my Contact page and sign it with your key.
PGP has been included in many popular email clients over the past few years. This includes Outlook, Thunderbird, Rainloop and more. There were even several third party browser extensions to bring this support to GMail.
In 2014, Google announced a new project known as “End To End” which aimed to bring OpenPGP support to GMail. NakedSecurity covered the story and showed that while it is a clunky implementation, there was promise and hope that it would be seamlessly implemented into GMail in the future without the need for a Chrome Extension. Sadly this was not the case as we are now finding out.
There are several third party desktop applications that solve this on the desktop, there are also a few Chrome Extensions, Android Applications, iOS Applications and more to add support for PGP however there is yet to be a cohesive experience for users who jump between multiple platforms and machines. This is where the GMail redesign could have filled the gap.