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Google, Microsoft, Yahoo in move to encrypt mails, protect users

business Updated: Jun 11, 2014 23:28 IST
Vivek Sinha

As e-mails become the preferred mode of communication, the security of their content has become a major concern for both users and service providers such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, to keep electronic communication out of the reach of hackers as well as snooping agencies.

In a latest, Google has said in its official blog that it is adding a new layer of security called “End-to-End” to encrypt data in a user’s Gmail account.

“End-to-end encryption means data leaving your browser will be encrypted until the message’s intended recipient decrypts it, and that similarly encrypted messages sent to you will remain that way until you decrypt them in your browser,” Stephan Somogyi, Google’s product manager, security and privacy said in the blog post.

A few months ago American spy-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden had revealed that the US National Security Agency had extracted huge data from Google and Yahoo servers located outside the US.

Cellphone maker and email service provider BlackBerry had got into a standoff with the Indian government a few years ago, when it was ordered to hand over the encryption code it uses for data passing through its servers.

BlackBerry servers are considered super safe by corporate users worldwide.

Google’s “End-to-End” is still in testing stage, and available only to developers and a “community” of sophisticated users who would fix any initial glitches.

“Once we feel that End-To-End is ready, we will release it via the Chrome Web Store ourselves,” Google said in another blog post.

Yahoo said data passing through its servers are encrypted. “Anytime you use Yahoo Mail whether it’s on the web, mobile web, mobile apps it is 100% encrypted by default and protected with 2,048 bit certificates,” the Yahoo spokesperson said.

Microsoft said its messaging service Microsoft Exchange has TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption enabled by default. “We are currently rolling out TLS encryption for popular email service

We are also further strengthening encryption of customer data moving across our networks and services,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.