Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will expand the use of encryption to protect customer information, following reports that governments are intercepting data traveling between users and servers or between company data centers.
The company will also step up its legal efforts to protect private data and will make its software code more transparent so customers can reassure themselves Microsoft’s products don’t contain “back doors” allowing access to their information, the Redmond, Washington-based software company said in a post on its official blog today. The encryption enhancements will be completed by the end of next year, it said.
“We are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data,” Microsoft said. “Government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyberattacks.”
Yahoo! Inc. and Google Inc. have also announced they’ll beef up encryption, following reports of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency. The NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad to siphon data from Google and Yahoo, circumvented or cracked encryption, and introduced weaknesses and back doors into coding, according to reports in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper based on documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
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