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Yahoo now encrypting traffic from its data centers, and plans to encrypt Messenger too


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Yahoo is one of the many technology companies demanding reforms on US surveillance laws, and now says it's taken additional security measures to protect data it handles. Today the company announced that it's been encrypting traffic from its data centers since the beginning of this week, and plans to add encryption to additional services like Yahoo Messenger. That's on top of existing measures that let web users access secured versions of its various properties like Yahoo News, Sports, and Finance.

"Hundreds of Yahoos have been working around the clock over the last several months to provide a more secure experience for our users and we want to do even more moving forward," wrote Alex Stamos, Yahoo's chief information security officer in a blog post today. "Our goal is to encrypt our entire platform for all users at all time, by default."

In a meeting with reporters today, Stamos — who joined Yahoo three weeks ago — did not specifically call out the National Security Agency by name, but made it clear that revelations about NSA spying led directly to Yahoo's move toward more encryption. "The impetus for the huge push is obviously government revelations," Stamos told reporters. "The side effect is that the protections we're putting in place protect in a lot of different scenarios."

Yahoo was one of eight companies including Google, Facebook, Apple, and others that called on the US government for reforms to the NSA in December. That request came amid heightened interest in revelations of NSA surveillance programs on US citizens. Google, for its part, began encrypting Gmail just last month, citing the need keep others from being able to "listen in on your messages." Encrypting everything makes that scenario more difficult, though Stamos warned that the system is not foolproof.

"It's true that if there's any individual that's being targeted by a top-tier nation state, they're probably going to find a way. But that's very different from being able to keep track of the email and browsing habits of millions of people at the same time," Stamos said. "Anything we can do to protect users from non-targeted, widespread surveillance is our duty, and that's why we're trying to do."

Casey Newton contributed to this report.


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