Yahoo! Joins Competitors in Fight Against Hackers

Yahoo!, they of the unnecessary and bothersome exclamation point, said last week that they plan to join Google, Microsoft, and Facebook in providing security measures that will make it nigh impossible for hackers—both civilian and government-sponsored—to infiltrate their systems.

All About the Encryptions

Yahoo (no more extraneous punctuation for you, pal) is preparing to roll out a new encrypted email system for all its users that would offer protection against ISPs, law enforcement, and government agencies. Yahoo CIO Alex Stamos (no relation to John) announced the move at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas. Stamos said the new system will be available to more than a billion Yahoo Mail users (note: there is no way Yahoo Mail has a billion users) by the end of 2015.

Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are also taking steps to provide encryption for internal traffic. The moves come after Edward Snowden’s little-reported revelations that the National Security Agency is spying on everyone in American and most foreign countries literally all the time, because national security. Additional pressure was felt by the tech giants after a US District Court judge ordered Microsoft to turn over emails connected to a criminal investigation, despite the emails in question being stored on servers in Ireland and this being a highly questionable and probably illegal overstepping of bounds and international law.

Dig the new official NSA  work uniform.

Dig the new official NSA work uniform.

Different Systems, Different Solutions

Yahoo’s solution requires a browser extension that has users type their messages in a separate window. The subject lines of emails won’t be encrypted, but the rest of users’ email messages will be—not even Yahoo itself (themselves?) will be able to read the messages. Text remains fully encrypted until the message is opened by its intended recipient.

Google’s “End-to-End” extension of their Chrome browser was added in June, proving email encryption. Microsoft is working to add encryption technology to its popular Outlook email system by year’s end. Both Yahoo’s and Google’s encryption systems require opt-ins from users; it is as yet unclear if Microsoft’s system will follow suit.

Facebook will likely automatically opt users into its solution whether they want to or not, because that’s how they do. The good news is, the only giant, malicious entity you have to worry about stealing your information from Facebook is Facebook.

Although, really, if you think any of these new safety measures won’t be hacked within about a week and a half, you must be new here.

Photo credit: Katy Levinson / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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