In the current context of virtual security, tech giants such as Microsoft and Google are teaming up to improve encryption for email services.
Google has been working on the matter for some time now, since the percentage of properly encrypted emails on Gmail has risen from fifty to seventy percent. The experts of the company are expecting these numbers to increase as all providers are currently strengthening their security. However, there are still a lot of messages that are being sent in a plain-text format and are thus susceptible to attacks.
In this light, other tech giants joined for a new initiative that is set to fix this outdated technology. Named SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), the system has powered email communication from the 1980s. As the years passed, it has been revised multiple times. However, it still fails to keep up with the advancement of technology and its requirements. At the moment, users are not provided with complete protection against hackers or other parts that plan to compromise their privacy.
The goal of the new initiative is the same as the one of STARTTLS, which was set up a few years ago. This is an extension for SMTP that aims to encrypt automatically messages that are sent in the plain-text format. While the feature was adopted by major email services, it could not cover all issues, since it allowed messages to be sent through unsure connections.
The new proposal from Google and other companies is to prevent messages from being sent if an encrypted connection cannot be established. Named SMTP STS, the mechanism will require servers to verify the legitimately of the receiving end, but also inform the user why and when their emails are blocked.
In this way, a negligent provider will be cut off from peers that would use the extension. Furthermore, it will facilitate the implementation of more efficient privacy controls. Experts believe SMTP STS will have a significant impact on developing countries since email services usually adopt new standards more slowly than the Western states. However, all companies will be forced to upgrade their services because otherwise their Yahoo Mail, Gmail and Exchange messages will not be processed.
If the Internet Engineering Task Force approves the standard, the initiative will most probably be implemented in a timely manner.
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