Microsoft to Encrypt Communications
Microsoft is going to start encrypting their Internet communications. This comes in response to recent reporting that the National Intelligence Agency (NSA) has been going after Internet traffic from Google and Yahoo. The revelations came as part of the documents released by Edward Snowden. That document dump contained—and still contains unrevealed—information that showed the NSA was intercepting communication from private companies, sometimes in the US and sometimes overseas.
In the Washington Post, Microsoft representatives expressed outrage over the revelations and said that it likely violated their Fourth Amendment rights. Other companies revealed as targets of the MUSCULAR program have expressed similar outrage.
Not a Small Thing
Setting up encryption over the Microsoft network will be a very large undertaking, offering some evidence that the company really is concerned about being spied upon. Google has recently started encrypting its traffic, as well.
These efforts do keep the companies safer from hackers, but they are all, in part, undertaking these projects as the direct result of fear about US government snooping.
Like large companies, everyday citizens are also subject to this spying and, in fact, the traffic that those citizens generate on sites such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft services such as Live are all either suspected or known to be targets of NSA interest.
Encrypting communications over the Internet is actually very easy to do, though many people fail to do so. This leaves their communication open to snooping of any kind.
It’s important to remember that encryption doesn’t mean complete safety from being spied upon. The NSA spends a lot of money figuring out how to get around encryption. The difference between using encrypting and not using it, however, is that the information has to be decrypted, and that is difficult. Companies like Microsoft may still end up being spied upon, but they will be much harder targets for having encrypted their information.
VPN services can make individuals into much harder targets for random traffic sniffing. These services encrypt information and foil efforts at traffic shaping, randomly scanning of information and so forth. This makes them great privacy enhancing tools.
Unfortunately, like some of the leading technology companies in the world, private citizens are likely going to be more interested in encryption to protect themselves against more than hackers these days, as protecting one’s self against government snooping has become a significant concern for everyone.