Google Messages more secure: now has Signal encryption

With a muted announcement, Google has let people know about the debut of end-to-end encryption on Google Messages: what it is and how it works

Last November, Google announced that it was working on the introduction of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on Google Messages. The new feature, which aims to greatly increase the security and privacy of written exchanges, was first made available on the beta channel, so as to be tested and cleansed from the physiological flaws of youth, and in these hours is finally available to all.

End-to-end encryption now debuts for everyone, even for those who downloaded the Google Messages app on the Play Store or found it pre-installed on the smartphone, and therefore belongs to the stable channel. When end-to-end encryption is enabled, no one can read the content of messages, not even the service provider, which in this case is Google: text and multimedia content travel encrypted and the key to make them readable is kept exclusively on the device of the sender and the recipient. It's a system that WhatsApp and other famous instant messaging apps have been using for years, and that Google Messages is now embracing thanks to the Signal protocol used by the big G.

End-to-end encryption for everyone in Google Messages

E2EE encryption requires both the sender and the recipient to have chat capabilities and a data or Wi-Fi connection to the internet network active: in other words, it can't be activated with SMS, MMS and group messages, but it remains available when using the Google Messages web app and not just the app available on the Play Store.

When these requirements are met, then E2EE encryption is enabled for both existing and new conversations. There is also a visual check by which you can tell in a flash whether you are protected by end-to-end encryption: a padlock icon in the "Chat with" banner and also on the send message button.

Importantly, when end-to-end encryption is temporarily lost before sending a message, by default Google Messages waits for it to be reestablished before sending it. However, you can still decide to send it via SMS, but you will lose the encryption.

How end-to-end encryption works

End-to-end encryption, as mentioned above, turns the text into an unreadable code, except with the so-called "secret key" that is only available on the two smartphones in conversation. The key is disposable, it is generated again for each message: it is deleted from the sender's device when the message is sent and deleted from the recipient's device when it is received (after the text has been made readable again).

Each conversation with E2EE encryption also has a unique verification code that you can manually verify with the other person by tapping on the menu, then Details and then Verify Encryption.