NYT-After N.S.A. Disclosures, Yahoo Moves to Encrypt Internal Traffic

NOVEMBER 18, 2013, 11:41 PM

By NICOLE PERLROTH

Thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, technology companies are feverishly enabling new security features in an effort to assure users, particularly abroad, that they are doing everything possible to secure their data from hackers and the National Security Agency.

On Monday, Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, said Yahoo had plans to add extra levels of security to the company’s business operation.

“As you know, there have been a number of reports over the last six months about the U.S. government secretly accessing user data without the knowledge of tech companies, including Yahoo,” Ms. Mayer wrote. “I want to reiterate what we have said the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or any other government agency. Ever.”

Both Yahoo and Google secure their data centers with full-time security details and state-of-the-art heat sensors, video cameras and, even in some cases, iris scanning technology. When servers at Google pass their prime, employees bludgeon them with steel pistons and put them through industrial shredders before recycling them, to ensure no data is left behind.

But that data flows from center to center on fiber optic cables owned by Internet backbone providers — and that, Google executives believe, is where intelligence agencies are tapping them.

Even before Mr. Snowden began releasing classified materials to journalists last June, Google grew suspicious that outsiders could tap its traffic between data centers and began encrypting that traffic. After the Snowden revelations, Google said it was accelerating those efforts.

On Monday, Ms. Mayer said Yahoo now planned to follow suit and encrypt the user traffic flowing between its data centers in 2014. “As we have said before, we will continue to evaluate how we can protect our users’ privacy and their data,” Ms. Mayer said.

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