09Feb, 2017

Will Yahoo Revelations Increase the Need for Email Encryption?

Yahoo scans all emails following US government request

Yahoo in the past has enjoyed the position of one of the most highly valued names of the industry. Currently, they have seen much demise with their recent sale to Verizon for a minor fraction of its’ once value. This has been shortly followed more recently with some seriously damaging news causing ripples among those concerned with email privacy.

Victim to one of the biggest security invasions on record to date, Yahoo disclosed personal details of toward half a million users in an invasion labeled as a “state-sponsored attack” as reported by the Telegraph. Obvious due to the large scale of data theft it has also been noted that a many numbers of businesses have also fallen victim to invasion due to hackers since the attack.

Undoubtedly recent reports including one by the NY Times discloses the relationship between and is now causing significant concern. More specifically the concerns highlight the particular necessity to implement appropriate security measures regarding email encryption.

As released by Reuters, a custom-built software program was designed to scan all incoming email by Yahoo following a US government request. Unclear whether the NSA or the FBI made the actual order, the outcome resulted in their ability to scan incoming email content including the attachments of their customers. Searching for particular characters or sets of, the aim or particular details scanned for has remained unknown.

The significance of invasion of email privacy

The operation was undertaken unknown to even Yahoo Security, however, it was shown that Yahoo chose not to undertake their legal right to fight the request with the assumption they would lose the case due to the actionable rights of obtaining the data due to a national threat.

Attacks such as these have been seen in the past however not where all incoming mail is scanned but rather more selective data access has been sought.

With one of the world’s leading email providers seemingly handing out private information it is no shock that other now major players within the industry are denying the possibility that they too would fall victim to such harassment. Falling short of saying they were not approached to create the scanning program, a spokesperson for Microsoft stated “We deny the secret scanning of incoming emails like what was reported about Yahoo today” An obvious reason for concern among users, the implementation of end to end encryption is being deemed appropriate. Unable to read messages in transit end to end encryption provides details to the end users only.

Will the attack increase the need for encrypted emails?

With the knowledge that it is possible for even the most trusted of providers to compromise your security and the understanding that email always carries with it some element of risk, searching for better ways of ensuring your email privacy is just common sense. The use of consumer-grade providers still allows consumers to assure their privacy simply by taking some effective measures.

Bearing this in mind it is not unlikely that end to end encryption may in fact become popular among users, and a necessity for those transmitting more secretive data. Furthermore, with the acceptance that government agencies have the power to intercept email, as well as the threat of hackers always lingering, it is no doubt that end to end email encryption is the safest way of ensuring your privacy during electronic transmissions.

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