New security tactics are intended to keep hackers, the government and the websites themselves from prying. Both Yahoo and Google have promised their mail service users that their respective inboxes will gain an additional perspective of security. Right now, there are over 425 million Gmail users and approximately 273 million Yahoo Mail users.
Come next year, Yahoo Mail users can expect their messages to be vastly more secure.
On Thursday, Alex Stamos, a security researcher for Yahoo YHOO 0.48% announced the company would develop an encrypted email system that will let users send messages to other Yahoo users, as well as Gmail users, that only the sender and recipient can read. This enhanced form of security will begin rolling out as an option for users in the fall.
Yahoo’s security measures follow on the heels of recent steps by Google GOOG 0.92% to encrypt users’ email. According to The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo will rely on a kind of PGP encryption, which hasn’t been cracked. Previously, most email services stored data like user names and passwords, but PGP goes one step further by storing unique security keys on users’ actual devices.
Yahoo and Google offer the two most widely-used email services on the Web today, accounting for 600 million-plus users combined, according to ComScore.
Google, Microsoft and Facebook Inc moved to encrypt internal traffic after revelations by Snowden that the spy agency hacked into their connections overseas. The companies have also smaller adjustments that together make sweeping collection more difficult.
The news that both companies plan to encrypt email marks a significant effort to ramp up security after Edward Snowden leaked information from the National Security Agency last year revealing — among other eye-opening secrets — the vulnerabilities in tech companies’ data practices. Yahoo and Google’s so-called “end-to-end” encryption efforts will help protect users’ sensitive data from the prying eyes of hackers, the government, even the Webmail services themselves. Web companies are increasingly competing for users based on security and publicly bragging about their extra protections to gain an advantage, or at least keep those in place from defecting.