Shortly after Google announced the partially successful cyberattack on Gmail, the company said it will activate by default a secure network technology for its e-mail service.
Google has long offered the option to access its Web-based Gmail service by using HTTPS--a secure version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol that Web browsers use to retrieve information from Web sites. Now it will become the norm.
"Using HTTPS helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, such as in public Wi-Fi hotspots," Gmail Engineering Director Sam Schillace, said in a Gmail blog post on Tuesday. "We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there's a downside: HTTPS can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn't travel across the Web as quickly as unencrypted data. Over the last few months, we've been researching the security/latency tradeoff and decided that turning HTTPS on for everyone was the right thing to do."
However, not all is smooth sailing.
"If you use offline Gmail over http currently, the switch to HTTPS is likely to cause some problems," Schillace said. He directed affected people to a secure offline Gmail fix that walks users through an installation process to get things working.