Yahoo to extend encryption to protect against spying

The revelations by former U.S. security contract worker Edward Snowden of digital spying by the country’s National Security Agency have had enormous impacts across the IT industry as organizations question the security of their systems against government snooping.

In the latest response, Yahoo  said this week that it is working on encrypting all data that moves between its data servers by the end of the first quarter next year, offer users the option to encrypt all data between them and Yahoo by the end of the first quarter and work with partners to ensure that co-branded Yahoo Mail accounts are more secure by having them HTTPS-enabled.

Yahoo has already said that its Mail service will be HTTPS encrypted starting Jan. 8, 2014.

The report was first revealed by BBC News.

As a professor of network security told BBC, these steps help make Yahoo more secure, but may not be able to withstand the skill of government electronic spy agencies.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in a statement that her company fights hard to preserve the trust of users. “I want to reiterate what we have said in the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency. Ever.

After going through Snowden’s records, the Washington Post reported last month that U.S. and British spy agencies had the ability to get into Yahoo and Google mail servers outside the U.S.

Separately, three U.S. Senators have filed a brief in a federal court there challenging the claim of the NSA that its bulk phone metadata collection is required for national security purposes.

The Snowden revelations are making some governments very uncomfortable with the public now understanding how capable their electronic spy agencies are. At the same time some companies — though willing to co-operate with court orders  for information sharing or transfer — are making moves to ensure they’re not seen as defenceless.

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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