- All messages sent and received through Gmail are now encrpyted, making them extremely difficult to intercept
- Move follows revelations in documents leaked last year by Edward Snowden that spy agency can look at private messages
- In the first half of 2013, Google received 25,879 requests for user information from federal government and courts
Amid revelations that the National Security Agency has the ability to intercept data going between servers and other computers, tech giant Google now says it will encrypt all messages sent through its Gmail email service to prevent prying eyes from looking at private messages.
In a blog post made Thursday by head Gmail security engineer Nicolas Lidzborski, Google said that every time a user checks or sent email, it will be encryped as the data goes to and from Google's servers.
Although Google has given Gmail users the ability to sign into their accouints through an encrypted connection (known as HTTPS) since 2010, Gmail will now automatically default users to the more secure network.
'In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100 percent of them—is encrypted while moving internally,' the post reads. 'This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers—something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.'
Those revelations were made last year by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, who leaked documents about global surveillance efforts used by the agency, including snooping on emails.
Reports have indicated that the NSA was hacking into fiber optic cables used by tech companies to send data to and from data servers scattered around. The trouble is that the data sent through these cables is usually not encrypted, which allowed NSA spies easy access to the information being sent.
Encrypting messages not only protects users from the NSA, but from computer hackers as well. 'By protecting the connection between you and Google servers, they protect you against tons of attackers,' Mikko Hypponen, a security researcher in Finland, told CNNMoney.com.
However, Google hasn't NSA-proofed Gmail completely. The agency still has the ability to send out National Security Letters compelling a company to release information. And the federal government hasn't been shy requesting data from Google. In a transparency report, Google said that for the first half of 2013, it received 25,879 requests for user information from government agencies and courts.