Comcast to Encrypt Email For Security

June 3, 2014 – 9:14 PM

Comcast Corp. the nation’s largest Internet provider by number of homes and businesses served, Tuesday said it would begin scrambling customers’ email to protect it from prying eyes.

The move came just hours after Google called out email providers, including Comcast, for not using encryption. Google Tuesday publicized for the first time the share of its email traffic with other providers that remains encrypted. According to Google, fewer than 1% of Gmail messages sent to addresses remained encrypted on a sample day last month.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the company is testing encryption and would begin using it more broadly on customers’ email “within a matter of weeks.” He said Comcast is “very aggressive about this.”

The moves were an indication that some tech companies see privacy as a consumer issue after a year of leaks from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor. Mr. Snowden’s leaks prompted Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., among others, to make it harder for government spies to read emails as they cross the Internet’s backbone.

Google began encrypting Gmail messages by default in 2010. The process uses math to turn messages into a jumble of numbers and letters that can only be read with a key. The challenge: It only works if both sides are using it.


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