Anytime you are on a public network, you are more vulnerable to having your data stolen than if you were on your own home private network, unless you take the proper security precautions. If you have a Gmail account, Google would like to help you with those security precautions.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Gmail started offering users the option to track Gmail activity and remotely sign-out of their accounts. It’s one way for users to keep their account secure, and now they’ve introduced another – the option to always use https. Gmail says they have supported https since day one (it keeps your mail encrypted as it travels around the web), but only to protect passwords at login. Https isn’t used after the login when you are reading and writing email because it tends to slow things down. Now Gmail users can opt-in to always using https, even though it may make checking email slower.
To opt-in, all you have to do is go to your settings, and then scroll down to the bottom of the “General” tab and look for the “Browser Connection” setting. Here you can select to always use https or never use https. Not everybody will have this option today because in typical Google fashion, it’s slowly being rolled out.
People have been using https connections with Gmail for a while now, but they’ve had to use a Greasemonkey script like this one that has been installed over 32,600 times (which is a lot for a Greasemonkey script!), or a Firefox extension like this one. What Google has just done is important because for those who used the aforementioned methods, once they went to another computer, they would have to remember to manually type the “https” into their browser. Google’s efforts to make an https connection always available should be applauded because it gives users more confidence that their mail and information is safe, even when they are on public networks.
Now it would be nice to see Google roll this out to some of their other services like Google Calendar or Google Docs.