Google, Microsoft, Yahoo want to make email more secure

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It is a subject that concerns most of us from time to time and we are all often concerned that our emails may get hacked but now a number of the big players within the tech industry including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Google have teamed up to create a new email mechanism that will ensure that the messages that you send are encrypted.

The group have put forward a proposal which they have submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force which they have called the SMTP Strict Transport Security or SMTP STS for short.

The main reason that they have highlighted is the fact that the technology behind emails has changed very little since it first became available. The encryption technology that the big tech firms use, including Gmail, was also introduced to some time ago and is now viewed as being vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

For example, a hacker would simply have to insert a fake digital certificate that a system could recognise and believe to be authentic. This may not be straightforward for Joe Blogs on the street but to an experienced hacker it wouldn’t pose too much of a challenge.

The result of this would mean that you could end up sending information to an unsecured server without your knowledge and you could also potentially continue sending the message even if it has been detected as unsecured.

The new proposed system can prevent either of these scenarios from happening. The new system would detect the domain you are sending to supports SMTP STS and would double check that the certificate is authentic and crucially, up to date. If everything is OK the email will be sent, if it isn’t it will stop the email from sending and you will be notified of the reason.

If the encryption proposal is agreed, it would result in 83% of Gmail messages being encrypted as opposed to just 69% at the moment.

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