Gmail – They Say “JUMP!” and You Say “How High?”

Greg Robinson

On February 9th, Safer Internet Day, Gmail announced two new security-related enhancements to their interface. The purpose of those changes is to provide Gmail users with more information on the validity and security of the messages with which they interact.

The first enhancement comes in the form of a new broken red lock icon that will display when a message is received from or is being composed to someone whose email service does NOT currently support Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. TLS encryption helps secure communications between mail servers to improve privacy, reducing the likelihood of eavesdroppers viewing or modifying the data while in transit, but it only works if both the sending and receiving server support TLS.

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How recipients see messages received from senders not using TLS encryption

We have TLS encryption enabled for all of your communications sent to Gmail by default, so your Gmail recipients shouldn’t see this new broken lock icon on messages sent through your Informz account (YAY!). Informz does not currently REQUIRE TLS encryption to all domains because many receivers do not support its use; mail to those domains would bounce if we required TLS. As support for TLS encryption grows with receivers, more of your messages will be sent using it!

The second Gmail enhancement will change a sender’s profile image to a question mark if that message sender can’t be authenticated with SPF or DKIM:

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We’ve already done some of the heavy lifting for you by enabling TLS encryption on Gmail bound messages, and I encourage you to take a few moments to review your sender authentication (SPF and DKIM) to be sure everything is working as expected. If you have not yet configured sender authentication, connect with your Informz advisor for instructions.

Gmail has supported TLS encryption and checked authentication on inbound mail for a while now, however these new enhancements are making it easier for the recipient to see at a glance, in a non-technical way, whether the messages they interact with were encrypted in transit and received from an authenticated sender. Trust is a critical factor in email delivery and engagement, so when a prominent mailbox provider like Gmail calls senders out visually for not meeting certain email standards, you either step up to those standards or your response rates may suffer. We use TLS encryption when sending to Gmail and work with you to properly authenticate your messages in order to maximize your results.

As usual, please contact us if you have questions along the way!

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About the Author
Greg Robinson

As the Deliverability Manager at Informz, Greg Robinson oversees all client deliverability inquiries, maintains relationships with ISPs and anti-spam entities, and enforces anti-spam policy. Greg educates clients on best practices and strategy, working to correct existing and avoid future delivery issues to maximize deliverability rates.