Google (News - Alert) has been making great strides when it comes to email encryption, and it seems like the tech giant just won over a huge company: Comcast. According to recent reports, Comcast (News - Alert) (which is currently the country’s biggest internet service provider) has agreed to start scrambling emails in order to protect the communication from criminals. Hackers can target emails to find out about your gift card usage, vital statistics, travel plans and other sensitive information. This was announced on June 3 after Google made a public statement charging companies (including Comcast) with not doing everything possible to protect customers.
Google also publicly released just how many customers are blindly sending emailed un-encrypted which might make the senders targets of identity fraud. They say that less than one percent of Gmail emails which were delivered to Comcast.net email addresses were encrypted in May 2013. Gmail does everything possible to protect a user’s information, but it’s mostly up to the internet provider to truly keep this information safe. According to a Comcast spokesperson, Charlie Douglas, the company is in the midst of encryption testing and will completely roll out “within a matter of weeks.”
Douglas also says that the company is “very aggressive about this,” although failed to say why a move wasn’t made before Google called them out. As more and more people depend on emails to craft meaningful “cards” for special events, plan trips or even send vital information, it’s becoming more important than ever to make email as secure as possible. This move comes on the tail of leaks via the former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, who was also behind security measures by Microsoft (News - Alert), Yahoo! and Facebook. Snowden’s goal was to show the public just how easily the government could spy on them via online communication.
Back in 2010, Google first began encrypting Gmail messages via an algorithm that shifts messages into a jumbled mess that’s read compliments of a key. It’s a great system, but it’s only accessible if both sides of the coin are using it. It’s been four years since it was rolled out, and Google seems frustrated that very few people have got on board to help protect customers. In a last ditch effort, Google decided to publicly “shame” those who don’t encrypt, specifically stating that Comcast didn’t scramble any high risk messages which were sent to Orange (News - Alert) in France.
A numbers game
Google also says that less than 50 percent of emails sent to Hotmail (Microsoft) were encrypted, and pointed out in a December 2013 company blog that they’ve been working tirelessly to encrypt all emails with all servers. By encrypting emails sent over the internet from their end, emails are still stored on servers for marketing usage, and this is where the vulnerability creeps in. During the public shaming, Google also announced that a version of Chrome code has made it impossible, even for Google, to read emails and this will be offered as an add-on soon.