Yahoo to offer user-friendly e-mail encryption service

EncryptionYahoo to offer user-friendly e-mail encryption service

Published 26 March 2015

Yahoo has announced plans to create its own e-mail encryption plug-in for Yahoo Mail users this year, adding to already growing competition among Silicon Valley firms to capitalize on consumers increased privacy desires. The service will feature “end-to-end” encryption, or the locking up of message contents so that only the user and receiver have access to the information — typically a more advanced and time consuming process which involves specific software and encryption codes.

Yahoo has announced plans to create its own e-mail encryption plug-in for Yahoo Mail users this year, adding to already growing competition among Silicon Valley firms to capitalize on consumers increased privacy desires.

Thee Washington Post reports that the service will feature “end-to-end” encryption, or the locking up of message contents so that only the user and receiver have access to the information — typically a more advanced and time consuming process which involves specific software and encryption codes.

“What we’re trying to do at Yahoo is build our products so they’re safe and trustworthy, not just secure,” said Yahoo information security chief Alex Stamos. “That means making tools that are both simple enough for everyday users and strong enough to protect those facing more advanced threats, such as journalists and activists working in areas where freedom of expression is restricted.”

Google announced last June that it was also working on an end-to-end service for users of their Chrome platform. The version of the plug-in for Yahoo Mail users would work with the Chrome service to ensure better security between the competing mail services, benefitting the users for both services in the long run.

The move is part of a larger plan for the company to compete with Chrome and others, especially as the Yahoo Mail service is considered to be a generation older than its competitors.

With more attention to online security following the Edward Snowden leaks, and the involvement of Stamos, who joined Yahoo a year ago, the company is now trying to make a competitive move to offer more comprehensive benefits.

“Mail is one of the cornerstones of the Yahoo experience. It’s one of the ways we engage with some of the oldest and most dedicated Yahoo users,” Stamos said.

The company intends to make the service so easy to use that customers will be able to incorporate it with just a few clicks. Stamos and others imagine the plug-in to be used for a variety of situations, including the messaging of sensitive documents such as tax information or a private conversation with a spouse.

At a presentation during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the company premiered a video which compared the new platform to the more traditional end-to-end models. In the piece, a new user is able to send their first encrypted message in less than a minute.

Yahoo is not yet making the service available, but it is releasing the code behind the plug-in for public review in the hope that more patches to the software can be made before launching by the end of 2015.

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