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Yahoo! To Introduce End-To-End Encryption For Yahoo Mail

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Internet giant Yahoo! is all set to roll out end-to-end encryption for its popular Yahoo Mail service by the end of 2015. Unveiling the company’s plans during SXSW festival which was held in Austin, Texas; Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information security officer, said that the company is responding to the demands of its users who are now a lot more aware about the need to stay secure online. By offering a fully encrypted emailing service, the company has also joined the ranks of Google, Apple and Microsoft which started providing fully encrypted emailing and cloud solutions since last year.

Yahoo was one of the first Silicon Valley corporations to share the personal data of its users with the NSA. However, it was later revealed that the company had not willingly joined the spying efforts of the American government, it was in fact, threatened with heavy fines and coerced into revealing the private data of users. Yahoo had promised to fight back and ramp up the security of its products at that time and by offering a fully encrypted emailing service, the company is keeping up to its promise.

Before deciding to adopt end-to-end encryption for its emailing service, Yahoo did partner with Google and offered a browser based encryption solution. The browser plugin encrypts all messages locally and then routes them through the Yahoo network effectively securing them against all kinds of surveillance and snooping. The full code of the plugin is now available on the popular repository hosting service GitHub and developers who find security issues within the program are eligible to win rewards for their efforts.

Yahoo’s encrypted email service would rely on the ultra-secure OpenPGP email encryption protocol to secure the messages of the users. While OpenPGP is backed by most security experts and is considered as uncrackable, non-technical people often find it difficult to set up and use. However, Yahoo has promised that its proposed secure emailing service would be extremely easy to use and users would be able to configure and use it within minutes. Except for the one-time setup needed for the service, anyone who can write an email today would be able to use it without facing any technical challenges. Also, since the company collaborated with Google in the past, both Gmail and Yahoo Mail users would be able to send encrypted messages to each other with the click of a button. The company has already unveiled a beta version of the service for developers and the full rollout for the general public is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Stressing that everyone who uses email needs encryption, Stamos said that messages sent to family members or lawyers should always remain confidential. He also stated that secure email services are needed for people who live under repressive regimes. On the whole, Yahoo’s decision represents an exciting development for privacy conscious users who want to keep their sensitive data secure and private.

November 3, 2015

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