According to a leak by notorious hacker Edward Snowden, one US intelligence agency has access to the email and instant messaging contacts of global web users.
Of all of the popular ways that most of us protect our online accounts from theft, fraud, or even just nosy computer users, there are many. The most common, of course, is to use a password, throwing in caps lock and lower case variations, numbers and even non-numerical symbols as we hope to defend our accounts form prying eyes. There’s also the idea that you can just log out or, at a basic level, not discuss important details via web communications. Now, it seems that these precautions may have been for nothing as one US intelligence agency, the NSA, can access it all.
Leaking more documents from Edward Snowden, the now notorious American hacker who revealed a huge amount of details about American intelligence practices, The Washington Post has revealed that the US government doesn’t just have access to our messages, but to our contacts too. The National Security Agency, or the NSA as it is known, collects masses of email and instant messaging contacts from web users, and, since the NSA conducts these data gathering acts out on foreign soil, with no way of ‘screening out’ American citizens, users from all over the world could have had their contacts snooped through.
The documents also reveal that Yahoo customers are some of the most common targets for NSA data collection as the company does currently not encrypt its webmail services. However, according to Yahoo themselves, this is about to change as they say that on the 8th of January, their webmail will begin to utilise SSL encryption (which is what Facebook and Google use) to do a better job of protecting their users’ privacy, if not preventing the NSA from gathering data, at least making it slightly more difficult for them to do so.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.