Google Workspace apps are rated among the best productivity tools in the business. The suite covers a broad range of services, such as Slides, which was only updated last week, Docs, Sheets, Meet, Chat, and, of course, Gmail. The popular email client (Gmail) is now getting client-side encryption on the web in beta. The company says the feature would make its way to the rest of its services “in a later release.”
CSE for Gmail is currently only accessible to customers on Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard, leaving out users on lower-placed Workspace tiers, personal Google accounts, and those on older G Suite Basic and Business plans.
The feature is off by default — administrators can enable it by navigating to Security > Access and data control > Client-side encryption from the Admin console.
Scouring through a section of Google’s CSE support page, we learn that admins of organizations will have great power over which individual in the company has access to the keys, including the ability to monitor the encrypted files of the users. By contrast, end-to-end encryption doesn’t allow admins to view the users’ encrypted files.
Google clarifies that some features like multi-send mode, signatures, Smart Compose, translation, and summaries, Confidential mode, etc., will not be available with CSE emails. Furthermore, CSE on Gmail won’t allow users to search the body of the encrypted message while also restricting third-party add-ons from accessing the plain-text contents of the encrypted mail.
The aforementioned support page recommends client-side encryption for “highly regulated” industries, including the government, defense, aerospace, or financial institutions. Google also notes that CSE is already available for its other products, namely Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drive, and Meet, while Calendar currently has the feature in beta.
Eligible customers can apply to try the Gmail client-side encryption beta until January 20, 2023. CSE will also make its way to Gmail for Android and iOS, but Google didn’t offer a timeline for its arrival.