Google to Begin Alerting Users If Gmail Account Is Targeted by Government

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Top Tier Gear USA


By Clarice Palmer

As privacy advocates celebrate the FBI’s decision to stop harassing Apple over the San Bernardino shooter’s encrypted iPhone, other tech giants seem to have finally noticed that what consumers want is privacy. But for privacy to prevail, the government must stop snooping.

With that idea in mind, Google decided to change how the game is played.

In an official Google blog update detailing new security measures for Gmail, the tech giant announced it would begin alerting consumers whenever the firm detects an account is being targeted — or rather, hacked — by government agencies or their proxies. While the company believes less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users will receive this type of warning, the idea that a tech giant is going to these lengths to give users peace of mind and privacy should give advocacy groups across the country reason to continue celebrating.

Google opened its official statement by announcing the company has a “variety of new protections” in store “that will help keep Gmail users even safer.” The idea, Google added, is to “promote email security best practices across the Internet as a whole.” As one of these efforts, Google announced improvements to its “state-sponsored attack warnings,” a system that has been in place since 2012, when Google began warning Gmail users when their accounts were being targeted by attackers tied to the government.

While these “warnings are rare,” Google noted, “we’re launching a new, full-page warning with instructions about how these users can stay safe.”  The blog pointed out that “the users that receive these warnings are often activists, journalists, and policy-makers taking bold stands around the world.”

Enhancing its warning system is not the only thing Google is doing to keep users safe. According to the tech giant, its “safe browsing” notifications will also be expanded to warn users beforehand that a link they are about to open appears suspicious.

Google will also improve its email encryption securities by partnering with Comcast, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

From BGR:

Google wants to further improve email encryption, and the company partnered up with Comcast, Microsoft and Yahoo to submit a draft IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force] specification for ‘SMTP Strict Transport Security.’ Essentially, Google and its partners want to make sure that encrypted email stays encrypted along its entire path from sender to recipient.

This idea was originally explored by Google on Safer Internet Day, the day the California company introduced a new tool giving Gmail users a visual warning whenever they receive a message that hasn’t been delivered using encryption. The warning is also displayed whenever a user is about to send an email to an account whose email service provider doesn’t support TLS encryption.

While this step had a positive effect, as Google reported on its blog announcement, the company decided to go even further by partnering with other companies in order to develop a new IETF specification standard. This is intended to help companies “ensure that mail will only be delivered through encrypted channels, and that any encryption failures should be reported for further analysis, helping shine the spotlight on any malfeasance occurring around the Internet.”

The move was Google’s response to research carried out by its researchers, along with the University of Michigan and University of Illinois. According to researchers’ findings, “misconfigured or malicious parts of the Internet can still tamper with email encryption.” That created the necessity for further action in order to protect Gmail users.

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  • Broos
  • Ditch Gmail and go with protonmail if you want privacy. It’s free for the first .5GB of space but after that you have to pay money which is still cheaper than paying for GMail with your privacy. Nobody can help you if you lose your password and don;t have a backup email set up though, not even the employees of proton mail can access your email.

    • John Williams

      Truly! Anyone who believes that Google respects privacy also believes in the tooth fairy. The pretense is just meant to lull us to sleep again.

      • Thunderbird email client with torbirdy addon and enigmail plugin loaded with RSA 4096bit PGP keys = nobody is reading your messages if both ends are set up. All needed software is free for this application.

        • John Williams

          GnuPG glitch

          • It should work, it does for me. I’ll help if you need it.

          • John Williams

            Thanks. I think I have it covered. If not, Ill be sure to let you know.

          • BTW, I use simply because that program allows you to paste in your PGP password of which mine are 500 characters long so being forced to type in my password won’t work for me so I can’t use a majority of the PGP software out there… so why would they restrict you from pasting into a password field? That only benefits someone who is trying to hack into your stuff.

        • John Williams

          It also appears that is banned by Discus.

        • John Williams

          If you haven’t already, you might enjoy

  • The problem isn’t with the .1% of the hackees, but with the 99.9% of those who Google aids and abets, albeit sometimes with incompetence. If they’d put as much time money and effort into making their software intuitive and so, inherently more secure, the likelihood of the .1% would decline to impracticability and disappear. When they won’t listen to my repeated rejections of the same advertisers, why would I expect them to do any better with something more ephemeral?

  • I wonder. Does the “domestic” government spies get a pass, or just those governments that play ball and give them tax breaks and subsidy’s?
    I have a hard time believing Google would bite the hand that feeds them. I suspect this is simply “feel good” bs.

    • It is not Paranoia

      Exactly my thoughts with the “feel good” bs.

      “Tell them we’re the good guys! They believe anything we say anyway…”

  • For a wallet I’d use electrum but sent through the TOR network for anonymity. I have the settings if you need them. To acquire bitcoin coinbase is the biggest/safest I know of but there is also localbitcoins,, and even if you wanted to buy bitcoin with paypal. For anonymizing/tumbling your coins this is the most reputable service:
    http://fogcore5n3ov3tui.onion/ – that is a TOR address so you need the TOR browser for it to work.

    Here is a great tutorial about everything you’ll need:

  • randy wellman

    i just read a story a few minutes ago that says google chrome has been warning of malware on a bunch of the conservative websites..trying to steer the sheeple away from the REAL news…link to follow

    • google chrome operates as a botnet so I would get that crap off of your computer pronto if I were you. If you like the chrome interface just use the open source counterpart called chromium. Chrome updates itself without your permission which is what a botnet is, it is usually an illegal network of computers that are infected with a particular type of malware that awaits commands from an attacker and just because google is a big company doesn’t change the fact that they operate their chrome browser exactly like an illegal botnet.

  • randy wellman
    Are Democrats Using Google To Silence Free Speech?

  • I think that may have been a defunct link, I was looking for the clearnet page and couldn’t find it at the time but I just did find it: – that will have the real .onion URL which is: http://foggedd3mc4dr2o2.onion/ – my bad, apologies.

  • Thanks for the link. Proton mail is the most private email I am aware of.

    • Gary

      A little off-topic, but can I ask what Operating System you use or recommend?

      I’m wondering whether a break from Microsoft is worth the effort, and you seem to know your stuff.

      • Sure, I’ve been using Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS. Ubuntu is great for USB sticks which I am using it with a sandisk 30GB 3.0 USB but the Linux Mint GUI looks more like windows.

        • Gary

          Thanks for this. I don’t think I’ll ever reach your level, but at least I now know a good direction to take. 🙂

          • I am creating an Ubuntu setup guide for my reference. It will show you how to privatize your connection, use a private, encrypted dns as well as free vpn options. I’ve been testing it out and it has been working almost flawlessly, the only problems I am having are vpn disconnect issues but it isn’t on my end and since the vpn connection I use is free I’m not in a position to complain, lol. All of the sudden web pages just won’t load even though it says connected, it is annoying but doesn’t happen that often and all you have to do is use another vpn connection and resume what you were doing. I’ll send you a link when I get the kinks worked out, I’m sure it will be helpful.