By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked secret government documents more than 6 months ago, revealing the USA government’s mass spying on ordinary people. Now, tech companies are taking action to protect privacy.
Google, for example, is tackling the NSA’s secret spy operation – PRISM – that allows the NSA to peek into our e-mails and phones. In fact, the internet giant announced their email service Gmail is getting some beefed up security features to protect against the invasive government snooping.
According to Google experts, the way their services were previously set up left customer emails very vulnerable to hackers. If a person were to send an email to another individual, the message would have to travel from the computer to Google servers, move between the servers, then finally make the last stretch to the other person’s computer.
There were several checkpoints along the way where the email was exposed and easily accessible to prying eyes, but not anymore. Google adopted a new kind of communication security known as HTTPS, which basically encrypts (codes secretly) emails throughout their entire journey. According to a Gmail security engineer, HTTPS is basically uncrackable.
However, the NSA could still access user emails if they really wanted to. Google representatives mention that the government agency still has the power to demand access to specific emails and user records if they really wanted to read them, by legally forcing Google to hand them over. So, while the new method isn’t exactly NSA-proof, Google’s efforts will make it more difficult and expensive for them to monitor large amounts of emails at once, especially the millions of innocent folks who don’t pose a threat to the USA.
Featured image courtesy of FixtheFocus on Flickr. Image of internet cord courtesy of Dennis Mojado.