Chrome End-to-End

Privacy advocates (including Edward Snowden) will tell you that one of the better ways to evade internet snooping is to encrypt data end-to-end, so that people can't casually peek at what you're doing. Well, it's now considerably easier to do just that -- if you're using Chrome, anyway. Google has released an early version of an appropriately named Chrome add-on, End-to-End, that secures your web-based email beyond what providers usually offer. Instead of setting up complicated encryption tools, you just use the extension; after that, messages you send or receive can't (easily) be read unless the recipient has the necessary key.

Think twice about jumping in with both feet. This is an alpha release that's bound to have some bugs, and Google only plans an official launch in the Chrome Web Store once everything is "ready for primetime." However, you may be willing to try it early after you see the new email section Google added to its Transparency Report. It reveals that a third of outbound Gmail isn't encrypted at all stages of transit, and that half of incoming messages are similarly vulnerable. If you're worried that this could leave your private conversations in the clear, you'll want to check out End-to-End right away.

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Google's new Chrome add-on secures your email every step of the way