As mentioned before in another posting i really dislike email. I feel like the whole system is broken, and yet we have all bought into it.
Allowing service providers to “read” all your messages in order to “figure you out” or profile you based on your written word or even images that sit in your inbox for years makes me upset.

That said, in order to be a lead actor in the world’s digital security theater, google recently started penalizing independent mail providers who do not completely buy into using TLS to secure email communications from their mail servers to google’s mail servers. Below is an image showing pretty clearly there is something “wrong” with this email:

Oh No!! RED!!!
"Oh No!! RED!!!"

You can see here there is a little pad lock that is red. In the world of UI, red is danger. WATCH OUT GMAIL USER! It basically screams at the user saying oh, dude, this message is not good!

Well great, now I need to explain to all my gmail users I email on occasion why they are getting messages that are “flagged” as a red padlock. I explain to them that gmail is putting this flag on the message because my mail server is not using TLS encryption to their mail server. They then proceed to say, why are you not encrypting messages, I thought you were a security minded person. Then I have a rage induced aneurysm.

Ranting aside…

Here is how you can “fix” emails going to gmail users to not have the red padlock if you are running postfix. In your /etc/postfix/ config file add the following lines:

# for logging tls
smtpd_tls_loglevel = 1
# don't bother with stupid broken protocols
smtp_tls_protocols = !SSLv2, !SSLv3
# use the best ciphers you can
smtp_tls_ciphers = high
# this is your cert file for your mail server, you can get one from letsencrypt...
# this is the private key file for the cert
# why yes, we want to use tls

Now when we email a gmail user we get something that looks like this:

Yay, back to normal!
"Yay, back to normal!"

Solved. Great.

Or is it?

No, it isn’t. This is all just security theater in my opinion. Your messages still live on gmail servers in plain text form (or at least they can decrypt your messages if they are encrypting them) and gmail can do what they want with your data. They can feed it into various algorithms that tell you what you should buy, or they can hand the messages over to the local authorities on request, currently without any form of warrant.

I claim security theater simply because there should ALWAYS be a red padlock on any message that isn’t end-to-end encrypted. I am probably one out of 10,000 people who takes any effort to secure emails. I use GPG for several of my contacts, and have my fingerprint on my personal calling cards when I meet people.

I accept that email is broken, but I do everything I can to have secrecy when I can end-to-end, not just on a transport level. Moreover, the entire certificate trust system is easily broken in my opinion. Have you looked through all the trusted certificates signing authorities on your distribution? Do YOU trust them?

Emails are like postcards. What this red padlock is saying is, basically do you have a lock on your mailbox so someone off the street cant look inside the mailbox and see what your postcard says. Gmail, the postman can still read the postcard and do what they will with said postcard, not limited to handing the postcard to someone you don’t it handed to. Honestly, I would rather have the email wrapped in an envelope so even the postman can’t read it.

I feel like gmail is just playing a publicity stunt to try to safe face for exploiting their users for years.