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Tech Firms Bolster Encryption Following Snowden Revelations

November 11, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

Firms including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo have tried their best to better encryption dramatically after Snowden revealed how much of their data the intel agencies could access.

Following the leaks, the tech heavyweights joined a new breed of privacy-security- focused start-ups who are creating applications and hardware with enhanced security.

From the Wickr messaging app for Android and iPhone to the Blackphone by Silent Circle, venture capitalists are investing money into firms that cater for a privacy-focused audience.

Tech Firms Bolster Encryption

 Tech Companies Bolster Encryption

  • Shocked by the news leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that showed how the U.S. National Security Agency accessed Google information. The tech giant now encrypts data both in transit and at rest. Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said last month that the new system was so safe and cannot be broken by NSA during its lifetime.
  • Google also worked with Yahoo to enhance security for both firms’ Gmail and Yahoo mail services, to reach hundreds of millions of people. The mail services now use end-to-end encryption that means not even the firms are privy to see the contents of a user’s inbox.
  • Just a few months back, Google announced that it would rank encrypted sites higher on its search page, creating another commercial motive for site owners to better security.
  • Facebook responded to the NSA revelations by expanding its HTTPS use, the padlock symbol in the Web browser, making it a default for all its users in July 2013, just after the leaks.
  • Last week, the social media giant made certain changes that allowed people using the Tor browser, the encrypted way of surfing the Internet, to visit its pages securely and privately.
  • According to intelligence agencies, cyber criminals are also developing their own technologies, with people connected to al-Qaeda creating secure applications.
  • Christopher Ahlberg, chief executive of Recorded Future, said the focus on encryption increased two-folds after NSA leaks with three or four new products developed since the spring of 2013.
  • Terrorist organizations updated their pace of innovation just like the commercial organizations did. It is not possible to run networks without communication, he added.
  • Ahlberg also said that the anti-social groups may be better off using technology created by major firms. It is always safe to use a commercial product, because of very few encryption experts.
  • You can always count on true experts on one hand, so the first lesson to be learnt here is that you will definitely fail if you use products that have not been properly tested.

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