A few years ago, end-to-end encryption—which means only the sender and the recipient can read a sensitive email—was an afterthought. Even post-Snowden, it’s still a difficult multi-step process that requires additional software as well as a unique encryption key, and for the person on the other end of the email to know how to use all the same tools. It’s a headache. Small wonder PGP encryption is still a niche product used by a handful of leakers and journalists.
That’s changing, slowly. Over the weekend, at South by Southwest in Austin, Yahoo—yes, Yahoo—pulled the wraps off a new Yahoo Mail plug-in designed to make encryption easy enough for laypeople to use. The product is still in development, writes Yahoo chief information security officer Alex Stamos in a Tumblr post:
“We’re building the best products to ensure a more secure user experience and overall digital ecosystem. While at this stage we’re rolling out the source code for feedback from the wider security industry, our goal is to provide an intuitive e2e encryption solution for all users by the end of the year.”
The Washington Post reports that Google has been working on a similar tool for Chrome.
Below is the demo Yahoo showed the crowd at SXSW. On the left is all the steps it would have ordinarily taken to send a secure email; on the right is Yahoo’s new plug-in in action.
[via The Washington Post]