Yahoo set to implement end-to-end mail encryption


Yahoo is to follow Google in rolling out end-to-end encryption for users of its email service in a bid to keep users' correspondence private.

Announcing the move at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Yahoo's chief security officer Alex Stamos said that, from the Autumn, it would be rolling out PGP encryption to users.

This will be offered through a modified version of technology used by Google to secure its Gmail service. It will be enabled via a browser plug-in.

A few months ago, Google also announced plans to offer a Chrome browser extension to allow its users to encrypt emails. Yahoo's encryption will be compatible with that of Google's.

Two users with the plug-in enabled will be able to send each other emails with the data encrypted, making it unreadable to anyone but the sender and recipient. While it's been possible to encrypt emails for a number of years, such technology has been beyond the capabilities of most people. The plug-ins aim to simplify this process.

"If an activist in Sudan wants to email a human rights organization's gmail address and they have encryption set up for it, it will automatically detect that and offer them the option to encrypt," Stamos told delegates at the conference.

While the subject line won't be encrypted, the rest of the main body of content will. Such encryption means that neither Yahoo nor Google would then be able to scan through the content in order to serve up matching advertising. Stamos, however, predicted there would be no adverse impact on revenue by introducing the measure.

The firm has also updated its mobile email apps for the iPhone and iPad. In a tweet, Stamos said this mobile app will natively run the encryption found in the browser plug-in.

The updated apps will also enhance search functionality, making it easier for users to find people and messages they require via its Smart Search Suggestions.

Android versions of the email app are expected in the coming weeks.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.