Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Google Gmail Now Blocks Spies -- Including the NSA, Hackers, or Your Boss

By

Competitors are following suit in response to the surveillance scandal.

PrintPRINT
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg famously called the president of the United States recently to complain about the National Security Agency's intrusions into his customers' data. To hell with that, said Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). It assigned some engineers to NSA-proof its Gmail.
 
It's done. 
 
According to Internet security experts, the change makes wholesale collection of messages sent between Gmail addresses nearly impossible. It also prevents hacking by lurkers at public Wi-Fi hot spots, on mobile networks, and even by bosses in the workplace.
 
As the paragraph above implies, there are limitations. The biggest is that messages are apparently not protected if they go to the servers of competing email providers that don't support encryption.
 
These would include Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), though both of those companies have said they have similar changes in the works. Facebook already encrypts users' communications.
 
Email messages sent from a computer to Google servers, and between Google servers for delivery to the recipient, are now encrypted using the secure communications protocol HTTPS. The encryption makes it infeasible for the government's spies -- or any other spies -- to tap into the data as it travels from one Google server to another via fiber-optic cable lines.
 
The announcement of the change, posted Thursday in a blog by Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail's security chief, makes it clear that the change was a direct response to the startling disclosure by former government systems analyst Edward Snowden that the NSA routinely taps into the communications links for Google and Yahoo data centers, and warehouses millions of messages every day.
 
The question is why Google, and all of its competitors, didn't do this long ago. The blog post says Gmail has supported the HTTPS protocol since its inception and made it the default option in 2010. (CNet explains that users were able to opt out of encryption because it could slow down message delivery. That "opt-out" choice is no longer available.)
 
But it appears that the protection was in place only as the message traveled from the user's computer to a Gmail server. The encryption of messages between Gmail servers was just put in place, and that's the weak link allegedly exploited by the NSA.
 
Even if every major email provider follows suit, the government will still be able to spy on its citizens. But it will have to do it the legally authorized way: by sending a specific records request to the provider.
 
The irony is that Google and all of its competitors routinely spy on their own customers to collect the user data that is their bread and butter. A group of California students just sued Google for scanning their Gmails, a component of the company's free "Apps for Education" package.

More from Minyanville:

HP Will Enter 3D Printing Space, but Personal Machines Are Not on the Agenda...Yet

Sony's Project Morpheus: Virtual Insanity?

Google Just Upped the Ante in the Wearables Game


No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
PrintPRINT
 
Featured Videos

WHAT'S POPULAR IN THE VILLE