Eric Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has made us aware that the NSA’s had it all too easy with reading our emails and personal data on smartphones, tablets, and mobile gadgets in general.
Now, in an attempt to at least slow down the NSA, email giants Google and Yahoo are teaming up for an email encryption partnership that will not be completed until 2015. Security industry veteran Alex Stamos promised at Las Vegas’s Black Hat Hacker and Security Conference on Thursday that Yahoo and its users that their data would be encrypted “end-to-end” in 2015.
Earlier this year, Yahoo provided 2,048-bit encryption keys for all of its email correspondences, including attachments, contacts, and messages. “We are now automatically encrypting all connections between our users and Yahoo Mail…this encryption extends to your emails, attachments, contacts, as well as Calendar and Messenger in Mail,” wrote Communications Products SVP Jeff Bonforte. This encryption was done at the data center level, but Google’s promise regarding end-to-end encryption pertains to correspondence passed between both Gmail and Yahoo. Yahoo’s current data encryption protects Yahoo users on Yahoo services.
Google and Yahoo are the email giants on the Web, with Google’s user base at around 425 million and Yahoo’s at around 273 million. Google, once just a tech company that dabbled into creative projects, has become an Internet search engine giant over the last few years – and it now has the power to change things for the better. Google has teamed up with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and other tech companies in recent days to protest the NSA’s snooping activities – and to protect its user base against unusual search and seizure procedures from federal warrants.
Just a few days ago, we also learned that Google looks to help websites that provide data encryption for their users by raising their rank higher on the Google search engine than others. Sites that are data encrypted will bear the letters “https” in front of the URL, as distinct from the current “http” setup. The additional “s” in front of “http” stands for “http over TLS” (“TLS” standing for transport layer socket). While companies will likely fork over more money to encrypt their websites, some that are not so hotly ranked right now will take Google up on this new financial challenge – just to get that extra bit of web traffic.
Hopefully, Google and Yahoo’s end-to-end data encryption is something that other email providers will implement for their users. While we still have a feeling that the NSA will find ways to break through data encryption, tech giants like Google, Yahoo, and others can at least make it a bit more frustrating for the federal agency.