Is a completely secure email inbox possible?
Who wouldn’t want to have a completely secure email inbox? If Yahoo and Google join forces on this concept, completely secure email could soon become a reality.
Big news recently broke that Google and Yahoo are looking to create an encryption system that will make your inbox completely secure. The Wall Street Journal reported that the system being contemplated would make it “mathematically impossible” to hand over your messages to a court of law.
Now that is some serious security.
Push for Secure Email
In June Google launched and updated version of PGP or Pretty Good Privacy. This Chrome browser add-on helps make your e-mail more secure. A few months ago Microsoft upgraded the encryption for Outlook and now Yahoo has announced they will join the fray.
With so many public breaches in security of late, there has been a push to make it easier to protect users’ data. The National Security Agency’s level of intrusion that was made public by Edward Snowden has only fueled the desire of people to have more secure transmissions.
PGP has been around since 1991 and while that and other options like Gnu Privacy Guard have been available, those end-to-end encryption tools take a bit of technical ability and manual effort to implement. In fact, Carnegie Mellon University published a paper in 1999 stated that most people couldn’t figure out how to sign and encrypt messages using PGP. In 2007 a follow-up paper was written for a newer version of PGP that stated not much had changed in the general user ability of PGP.
What Google is looking to do, with Yahoo, is to create a broad based PGP extension that the general consumer market can access and implement easily by simply downloading the add-on from a storefront.
What does end-to-end mean?
In a nutshell end-to-end means that data that leaves your browser, or email program operating in a browser like Yahoo Mail or Gmail, will be encrypted until the intended recipient decrypts it and vice-versa.
Along with the NSA and GCHQ intrusions there is the concern about courts requesting emails from providers and hackers stealing data. With a good end-to-end encryption program, the data could be rendered so secure that the cipher used could not even be cracked by the provider. While someone could still see who the email is going to, the information contained in the email would be completely secure.
Release of End-to-End
In June Google released End-to-End, a Chrome PGP extension that helps to encrypt, decrypt, digitally sign and verify signed messages within the browser. The code was released in ‘alpha mode’ which means it is available for the public to test and evaluate it. That means that the extension is not in the Chrome Web Store yet. The public testing will allow Google a chance for a test run before an official launch.
For those people who aren’t overly knowledgeable the release won’t mean as much because it takes a bit of knowledge to install the alpha code. To learn more about the Google release, visit their online security blog.
The end result of completely secure email is consumer protection. One of the biggest things learned from the Edward Snowden story was all the ways that the NSA is eavesdropping on our online communication.
With the new PGP browser extension code for Chrome available, people can add a layer of protection to keep unwanted guests out of private communications. With the new completely secure email system that Google and Yahoo could roll out next year, everyone will be able to feel completely secure that their private messages are truly private.