In a bid to revive the confidence of its users, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is working on an end-to-end encryption technology. This will lock the contents of the message and thus it will be only the sender and the receiver who can read it. However, the process is time consuming since specialized software is required to be used and consumers need to look up encryption keys.
Generally, it is only SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption, which is provided to free e-mail users, implying the service provider as well as the sender and receiver of the message can read the contents. For end-to-end encryption, users need to look for encryption keys, which in itself is such a complicated process that people tend to use it only for the most sensitive messages.
After the recent report from Edward Snowden about how the National Security Agency has complete access to the data with the tech giants, companies have started working on new encryption plans. Here it may be noted that, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) had declared in June itself that end-to-end security would be provided to Gmail users through Chrome plug-in.
In this regard, the information security chief of Yahoo, Alex Stamos, declared the company’s intentions of issuing its own version of plug-in for its users. Also, it would work together with Google in this matter to enable end-to-end encryption by involving both the sides of exchange of an e-mail.
Further to the said announcement, the company has recently declared that it is working on tools that would be simple to use as well as advanced in technology to avoid any threat. This is especially useful for journalists and activists for whom freedom of expression is a must and priority too.
Yahoo realizes that making the users do something which would involve making more than a few clicks would be a daunting task. Hence the focus is on developing an easy to use technology. At a recent conference, Yahoo has released a video which shows a user using Yahoo Mail plug-in vis-à-vis traditional method.
Inspite of the process simplicity, Stamos is expecting the users to use the encryption method only for messages containing sensitive information like tax information, etc. This would work in favour of the company only. It is because they can target the customers with the right advertising after scanning the contents of the message, which is not possible in case of an encrypted message.
The company has still not planned the date of release of end-to-end plug-in for its users. However, it may soon release the code behind the plug-in for public review.
Along with the above, the company plans to launch new authentication features, like identifying users using push notifications in mobile apps and text codes. Also, the company has long-term plans to shift from the use of passwords to more secure options.
Yahoo has always had a track record of being a little late in terms of its security features. It even launched the SSL plan for its users much later than other mail providers.