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4 Simple Ways To Encrypt Gmail Attachments And Send Confidential Emails

May 9, 2022

Google’s G Suite is one of the most popular online workspaces in the world. With over 5 million companies using its services for their day-to-day operations. A prominent percentage of these companies work in sectors that require compliance with data protection laws, and negligence in this could lead them to some serious legal hot waters. 

Although Gsuite’s Gmail offers a few encryption facilities, it isn’t always as secure as you need it to be in order to cover the legal data privacy grounds (it’s easier to hack the communication).

Fortunately,  there are ways in which you can encrypt Gmail attachments without spending a pretty penny. 

In this post, we’ll not only share ways to improve your Gmail’s encryption and privacy, but we’ll also share a few external software and extensions that could help you out in this regard. 

We’ll teach you how to encrypt your Gmail attachments online, for free, and with 3rd-party external software.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How Does Google Protect Messages?
  • How to Encrypt Gmail Attachments and Confidential Emails?
  • Software To Encrypt Your Gmail Attachments And Send Confidential Emails

Now, here’s what you need to know about encrypting your Gmail attachments.

How Does Google Protect Messages?

Google encrypts your Gmail messages through a method termed Transport Layer Security or TLS

The messages you send will stay encrypted as long as the receiver is also using an email service with TLS, which is often the case with the majority of the email service providers. 

However, once the email has been received by the receiver, the encryption ends, which means there isn’t a guarantee that your message will stay private. 

Even Google goes through it to check for spam and phishing attacks. 

In addition to this, if your email’s receiver doesn’t have TLS, then your message won’t be encrypted at all, which means, you won’t have the guarantee that someone else can’t access your message while it travels from your email account to your receiver’s email account. 

Google tackles this issue with an advanced level of encryption called Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions or S/MIME

However, this feature isn’t available for free Google Workspace Suite accounts. In simple words, you won’t be able to use S/MIME, if you have a regular free Gmail account

There’s a lot of talk about Google’s end-to-end encryption, but so far there hasn’t been any progress. 

Some analysts believe that it’s just mere talk. However, Gmail does have confidential mode

Here’s what that means for your encrypted email attachments.

What is Gmail’s confidential mode? 

Google added Gmail’s confidential mode in 2018 to improve the security of emails. It allows you to restrict your message’s receiver from copying, forwarding, downloading, or printing any of your message’s content. It also allows you to expire your message after a certain date. Despite, the limitation on printing, forwarding, downloading, and copying, your message’s receiver can screenshot it, so it doesn’t make much of a difference with this security.

You can also put a password on your email, which Gmail shares with your receiver through some other source, such as a message or another email. 

Even though this sounds promising, it isn’t enough for your email’s security because it still doesn’t have end-to-end encryption. Which means anyone can access it while it travels from you to the receiver (if they don’t have TLS). Similarly, even after the expiration date, your email will still be around in your sent folder. 

In addition to this, Google and other mail services will be able to view and save your email, which means Gmail’s confidential mode doesn’t provide you with a true sense of security or encryption

Nonetheless, we’ll be sharing how to make use of this feature in the next section, we’ll also share a few software and search engine extensions for end-to-end encryption for your email attachments. 

How to Encrypt Gmail Attachments and Confidential Emails?

You can use Gmail’s confidential mode on your free personal Gmail account. If you are using a work or school account, then you might have to contact your admin to sort it out.

Step 1: Open Gmail

In order to send a message in confidential mode, go to Gmail, and press ‘Compose’. A pop-up to compose an email will open at the bottom right of the window. 

opening a new email in gmail

Step 2: Turn on Confidential Mode

Click on the confidential mode icon, which is at the bottom mid of the compose email pop-up. 

icon to open the confidential mode tab

On clicking this icon, a new window will open, asking you to choose your preferences. 

It contains the expiration date, and whether you want to put an email passcode or an SMS one. The expiry offers five different options: 

  • Expires in 1 day. 
  • Expires in 1 week.
  • Expires in 1 month. 
  • Expires in 3 months. 
  • Expires in 5 years. 

In terms of the passcode, you won’t have a choice to have your own; Google generates it for you. On choosing ‘No SMS Passcos’, Gmail account holders will receive your message without any passcode, whereas, the others will get an email passcode. 

On the other hand, if you choose ‘SMS passcode’, your message’s receiver will get an SMS passcode on their cell phone. Make sure that you input their correct phone number. 

The Gmail confidential mode window looks like this: 

tab to configure confidential mode

Step 3: Send the Email

Click on ‘Save’ and your settings will be saved. Type your message and click on ‘Send’ to send the email. 

Now that you know how to encrypt your Gmail attachments with the Confidential Mode, let’s take a look at some other ways to do so with external software.

Software To Encrypt Your Gmail Attachments And Send Confidential Emails

There are tons of search engine extensions and Gmail alternatives that ‘promise’ to send your emails with end-to-end encryption. 

The question is, are they trustable? 

The answer: It depends.

You don’t know what these third-party service providers might do with your data. Especially if they promise to encrypt your data and email attachments for free.

However, there are certain options that are vetted by the experts and deemed as suitable to encrypt Gmail attachments. 

Here are a few options to encrypt your Gmail attachments online with plugins:

PreVeil

PreVeil is a Gmail plugin that provides easy and secure email encryption. 

Its end-to-end encryption ensures that your data is secure both while traveling from you to the receiver, and while being stored in your and your receiver’s account. 

If anyone tries to attack your email communication, all they’ll receive will be unintelligible gibberish. 

Even the United States State Department trusts PreVeil, which allowed the use of this technology for International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) data.

They provide you with a demo version to test out their features, which means you’ll know what you’re signing up for before spending your money. Here’s how you can install it. 

Step 1: Download and Install PreVeil

Go to the PreVeil for Gmail chrome extension page by following this link, and clicking on ‘Add to Chrome’. 

Step 2: Sync PreVeil with Gmail

In order to sync PreVeil with Gmail, all you have to do is refresh the Gmail window. 

You’ll see a Secure Messages folder in the left pane. Everything else will work in the same way as it did before the extension. 

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Proton Mail

Proton Mail is a private and secure alternative to Gmail

It was founded by the CERN scientists, which enunciates that its promises of security and encryption are legit. It provides you with one free email account. If you want more, then you’ll have to buy a paid subscription. 

Here’s how you can create a Proton account and transfer your files from Gmail to Proton mail with encryption.

Step 1: Create a Proton Email account

Go to the Proton Email’s signup link and create an account by putting a Username and Password. 

Step 2: Open Easy Switch

In order to transfer files via Easy-Switch, sign in to your Proton Mail account through mail.protonmail.com

After signing in, go to Settings located at the top right of the window. Select the first option ‘Go to Settings’. 

Then, choose ‘Import via Easy Switch’ from the left pane, and select Google. 

easy switch import tab in the ProtonMail page

Step 3: Select your Google files

Choose files that you want to import. You’ll have the option to choose from emails, contacts, and calendars. Click ‘Next’.

select what you want to import to ProtonMail

Step 4: Choose your Gmail account

On clicking next, you’ll be asked to login into your Gmail account. Don’t worry, Proton Mail doesn’t save your Gmail details. 

log into your email account

You’ll be asked to grant access and to check all the boxes to enable Easy Switch to import your files. Click ‘Continue’, customize the options, and click on ‘Confirm’ to import your data. 

give Proton access to your account

Virtru

If you’re looking for free email encryption, then Virtru is the answer. 

It is a Google Chrome extension that connects with your Gmail and encrypts the messages. Here’s how you can use it to protect your emails: 

Step 1: Add the Google Chrome extension

Add the Virtru Email Protection extension to your Google Chrome by following this link. Click on ‘Add to Chrome’. 

how add the Virtru extension to your chrome

You’ll be asked if you want to add it to your Chrome browser, press ‘Add extension’. 

confirm you want to add virtru to your chrome

Step 2: Activate Virtru from Gmail

After adding the extension, go to Gmail. You’ll see a pop up asking you to activate Virtru. Press on ‘Activate’. Then, press ‘Done’ on the confirmation prompt. 

activate virtru for your email

Step 3: Toggle Virtru protection

On composing a new email, select the toggle in the top right corner. 

make sure you turn on virtru protection

Turn it on, it will become blue, showing that the message will be sent securely. 

virtru toggle on

You can add additional security options by clicking on the blue gear next to the toggle. 

additional security options

Conclusion

Hope this guide to encrypting Gmail attachments was helpful!

We hope that by now you would have learned how to encrypt Gmail attachments and messages. 

As we covered above, you can do it natively through Gmail with its confidential mode or use external encryption software like PreVeil, Proton Mail, and Virtru.

Now, if you’re looking for more ways to manage your Gmail messages and documents, you might also want to read:

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