How to send secure email attachments in Gmail

Eva Simpson

Eva Simpson


Nov 28, 2022


3 min read

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Gmail is one of the most popular email providers in the world – it has over a billion active users. However, a very small percentage of them ever consider how unsafe it is.

It's common knowledge that Google scans its users' emails to collect data about them and sell them to advertisers. Emails sent through Gmail can also be intercepted by third parties.

To send secure emails in Gmail, you can adjust your Gmail settings or use third-party apps and extensions offering encryption on your end. However, their services don’t always work as users would expect them to.

Your business, personal, and financial information is constantly at risk of being leaked – whether on purpose or accidentally. Learn how you can protect it and send secure email attachments in Gmail.

Does Gmail offer encryption?

Gmail uses the standard TLS encryption that automatically encrypts all outgoing emails. However, TLS protocol only works if the recipient also has it. If your friend or colleague is using an email provider that doesn't offer TLS encryption, all your emails to them will be unencrypted.

Furthermore, TLS does not mean end-to-end encryption. Therefore, emails can be intercepted in the mail server. Besides, Google can still scan the information in a TLS-encrypted email and give it to third parties.

Confidential mode in Gmail

In 2018, Gmail launched a new feature – confidential mode. It allows you to send emails that recipients can't forward, copy, print, or download. You can also set an expiration date on your messages, create passcodes, and revoke the recipient's access to the email.

While confidential mode sounds like a safer way to send and receive sensitive information, it has little to do with actual confidentiality. In other words, it just prevents the recipient from accidentally sharing something. It does not, however, prevent them from screenshotting the contents of the email. Confidential mode also doesn't have end-to-end encryption, which means that Gmail, as well as other providers, can scan and store your emails.

How to encrypt your emails and attachments

Upgrade your account

One way to make your daily messages more secure is to upgrade your standard Gmail account to a paid G Suite Enterprise or G Suite Education account. These offer S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) encryption, which is much stronger than TLS. It lets users encrypt their emails with user-specific keys that you need to share with the recipient. It also allows users to see the level of encryption their email has – S/MIME, TLS, or none.

However, S/MIME encryption won't stop Google's bots from crawling through your emails. Worse still, it only works if both the sender and the receiver have it enabled. So if your recipient uses an email service with no encryption, your emails to them will also be unencrypted, no matter what protocol you use.

Find another email provider

Gmail is not the best choice if you’re thinking about privacy. A new email address can be a good start, but only if the service provider is more secure. For example, if it offers encryption that relies on your keys, not the company’s.

When looking for a new email provider, pay attention to end-to-end encryption, zero-knowledge policy, and secure file sharing.

Send files via encrypted secure cloud storage

If you’re dealing with files daily, securing and sending them as Gmail attachments may get tedious. Not to mention that as you send your files, you can no longer control or even know who opens them. To protect your files and share them safely, use NordLocker.

NordLocker is a secure and private file vault with end-to-end encrypted cloud storage. You can access your files from the web or your device. More importantly, you can share them privately.

  1. Put your files in a locker and click “Share”
  2. Enter the recipient’s email address
  3. Click “Share”

NordLocker is built with security in mind, but it’s also incredibly easy to use. Simply drop your files into NordLocker and they will be encrypted, backed up, and synced across your devices automatically. You’ll protect your privacy and won’t lose your files even if you lose or damage your device.

Eva Simpson

Eva Simpson

Verified author

Eva is usually the quiet one in the gang. But don’t let that silent demeanor fool you. She’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And when she’s not kicking butts, Eva loves to dissect complex tech topics in a way even 5-year olds would understand.