Edward Snowden has done more for electronic security than anyone else. Singlehandedly, he has forced some of the biggest IT vendors to take a close look at data, data transfer, and how it is stored.
This follows the revelation that security agencies across the world were systematically scanning emails.
In response, Google has made much of its email encryption practices and its efforts to secure the contents of the email itself.
Last night, Microsoft, in turn announced that it has upgraded its encryption standards across all its networks.
Google, Gmail and Privacy
The irony about all this is that Google told Gmail users last year that they shouldn’t expect email privacy and admitted that it scans emails for information it uses to develop personalized advertising campaigns. For its part, Microsoft has muddied the waters so much that it is seemingly impossible to know what, or even if, it is scanning emails in Outlook.
Still, over the past year, and particularly since the Snowden revelations, service providers are tightening up email security. Security is rapidly becoming another element that vendors are using to browbeat competitors as they struggle for market position.
If by now we are used to the regular mudslinging between Google and Microsoft in the business productivity pit, it is less apparent around security.
However, the sniping in the security space that has become increasingly frequent over the year turned into a proper vendor firestorm a few weeks ago when Google published research that accused Microsoft, Comcast and Apple of sloppy security practices.
The report was widely circulated in the technology media and even made its way into the general media.However, none of the companies named in it seemed bothered, probably because they were already working on something that could respond to Google’s research.
In the case of Microsoft, last night’s announcement should go at least some of the way to convincing its users that its email services are secure. A blog post written by Matt Thomlinson, vice president of trustworthy computing security at Microsoft, said that these announcements are only part of a wider ongoing drive to upgrade security generally: