Google ups the ante on email encryption

Google (S GOOG) unveiled a new security tool for email encryption Tuesday called End-to-End, as well as a new section to the company’s Transparency Report that details which email providers are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that email is being encrypted in the open web.

The new tool, still in its alpha stage, is a plug-in for Chrome that works by encrypting the email sent between two parties and leaving it encrypted until a user actively decrypts the message in his or her browser. While there are other tools out there that do similar functions, such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and GnuPG, Google claims that those tools are more complex than the average person can handle.

While Google said that online security “has always been a top priority,” it’s interesting to note that this service seems catered to folks who are generally nervous about email and feel they need an extra layer of protection. In May, the company teamed up with Zix Corporation on a cloud-based email encryption service targeting the enterprise and users of Google Apps.

To add to that general sense of fear over email invasion, Google’s new addition to its Transparency Report explained that around 40 percent to 50 percent of email sent by Gmail users to other email services are not being encrypted; remember, email encryption is a two-way street and it requires all email providers to accommodate.

Google Email Encryption Chart 1

Google gathered data going back a year that details the rate at which email is being encrypted and was able to generate a list of the world’s top domains that support email encryption. Kudos to you if you use Yahoo (S YHOO), Twitter (S TWTR), or Facebook (S FB), as those companies’ domains are at the top of the list. As for users of Comcast (S CMCSA), Constant Contact (S CTCT), and Groupon (S GRPN), you might want to start looking at security plugins.

Screenshot of Google Email Encryption Chart 2

Google now joins the list of big-name tech companies–including Facebook (S FB) and Twitter (S TWTR)–that are actively calling out email providers to make sure they are doing all they can to ensure the safe-and-secure delivery of messages.