Google, Dropbox score high for encryption in Electronic Frontier Foundation report

(This post updated with new information below).

Just how secure is your web service provider? After recent revelations about U.S. government surveillance on Internet users, the Electronic Frontier Foundation surveyed major web companies to see which ones are using encryption to safeguard their users’ emails, data center transmissions and other online activities.

Google, Dropbox, SpiderOak and were the only companies that earned a perfect score in the EFF survey by reporting they are using five out of five “best practices” for encryption, including HTTPS protocol, forward secrecy and encryption of data as it moves between company data centers.  (UPDATE: Facebook, however, told EFF Tuesday that it’s also planning to encrypt data links between computer centers, and add STARTTLS  encryption for email, so EFF is now giving them a five out of five as well.)

Along with those four companies, two more – Twitter and Yahoo, as Levi Sumagaysay reported this week – have committed to encrypting their transmissions between data centers, the EFF reported. Privacy advocates say that’s become more important after the disclosure last month that a National Security Agency program known as “MUSCULAR” had tapped into overseas data transmissions between computer centers operated by Google and Yahoo – a revelation that sparked outraged protests from the tech industry.

The MUSCULAR program “exposed the tremendous vulnerabilities companies can face when up against as powerful an agency as the NSA,” the EFF said in a blog post announcing the results of its survey.

Other companies including Facebook and LinkedIn have announced they are adding some of the encryption measures recommended by EFF. Apple and Microsoft scored lower, while telecom providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon haven’t been forthcoming about their plans, according to the EFF.

“In light of the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs, as well as other threats to network security, it is now more important than ever to deploy strong encryption throughout networks,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl added in a statement.

(Chart showing survey results courtesy of EFF; full chart showing all companies surveyed is available on their website)


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