Yahoo has announced plans to apply end-to-end encryption to its email services, revealing at the Black Hat security show that it wants to offer the security layer to all users by the end of 2015.
The firm has followed industry moves in the direction of SSL that became keenly felt after Edward Snowden started making revelations about the PRISM spying operation.
Google seems to have gone the furthest of the main technology firms, and while it has already announced its support for end-to-end encryption in Search, Mail and Drive, this week it suggested that it would rank HTTPS-supporting sites higher in its search results.
Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information security officer, told attendees about the plans at the security conference on Thursday. V3 has asked Yahoo for more information, so far it has not responded.
Stamos revealed that the encryption will be enabled through a plugin that users will be encouraged to adopt. According to a report on Forbes, Stamos said that users will automatically be offered the most secure communications option.
“If an activist in Sudan wants to email a human rights organisation’s Gmail address and they have encryption set up for it, it will automatically detect that and offer them the option to encrypt,” said Stamos, who added that encryption was unlikely to impact on the Yahoo advertising business and could encourage more individual custom.
“We predict no revenue impact from end-to-end encryption. The ticket to Las Vegas that United emails you – and that we use to display Vegas ads to you – is never going to be encrypted,” he explained. “Privacy is much more effective as a selling point than it used to be. It’s still not a great selling point but it’s getting better.”