Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Yahoo Locks Down Its Data Center Links From NSA’s Prying Eyes

NSA-Logomag380Yahoo will be encrypting connections between its data centers beginning now and into the early part of next year, CEO Marissa Mayer said in a corporate blog post today.

The announcement comes after revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, have somehow been tapping the fiber-optic connections between international data centers belonging to Yahoo and Google under a collection program called MUSCULAR. The program’s existence was disclosed in documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Mayer said that Yahoo will institute 2,048-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption across its network for all Yahoo products by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Users will have the option of encrypting their data flowing to and from Yahoo products as well.

It’s worth noting that Google has been working on a similar move for at least several months as the pace and severity of disclosures on the NSA’s activities quickened. As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, a decision to encrypt data traffic between Google data centers that was reached last year was accelerated in June.

Encryption by itself is probably not enough to protect the data from NSA and GCHQ snooping, but it slows the work down by requiring that more time and effort — in particular computing time — be brought to bear to break encryption keys.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik