New Google Features to Make Email Safer

Google is introducing new features intended to improve the safety of email. When sending and receiving emails through Gmail, users will notice new visual indicators to help users identify potentially unsecure messages through the Gmail web interface.

  • When an unencrypted email is received, users will see a red open lock icon displayed in the upper right hand corner of the message window.
  • When interacting with an email service where a sender’s identity is unable to be verified, users will see a red question mark in place of the sender’s profile photo, corporate logo, or avatar. 

Any questions regarding these new features can be directed to IST at 780-492-9400 or

To ensure security of your information, use the following tips when sending and receiving email:

General Principles

  • Highly sensitive personal information (as defined in the UofA Email Best Practices document) should not be transmitted by email. It is also prudent to avoid sending birth dates by email if possible.
  • As a common alternative to email, uAlberta Google Docs is approved for use involving information that includes the University's business, academic, research, and administrative information and records. Be conscientious and careful about who you share and grant document access to.
  • Identifiable health and patient records are not within the scope of approved uses for uAlberta Gmail or Google Apps/Docs.

Additional Tips

  • If you are sending personal or confidential information to an account that does not support encryption, you should consider enhancements to email security such as attachment encryption, or email alternatives such as uAlberta Google Drive and Docs sharing. For more information, please see the Uof
  • A Email Best Practices document at
  • Be cautious of links in suspicious emails that you were not expecting. If you hover the mouse over the link, most browsers will show you in the bottom left where that link will take you. If the address has typos or looks strange, don't click the link.
  • Use caution when opening attachments regardless of who they are from. Remember that email addresses can be spoofed and email accounts can be compromised.
  • Do not open .zip, .rar, .gzip, or .tar attachments unless you are expecting them.
  • If an email contains files ending in .exe, .vbs, .bat, .js or .scr DELETE THE EMAIL immediately.
  • The University of Alberta will never ask you for your password. Never reply to these emails no matter how believable they may sound.

For additional information relating to Gmail’s new security features involving TLS encryption and authentication, please visit the links below:

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