Google has disclosed in its transparency report it has increased encryption of online content over the years to protect users from hackers. The search giant has been pushing for wider usage of HTTPS — the secure version of the hyper-text transfer protocol — to stop interception of information.
According to Google's transparency report, the percentage of requests to Google's servers that used encrypted connections has increased from 52 percent by the end of 2013 to 61 percent by the end of 2014, and to 77 percent as on Feb. 28, 2016. It may be noted that the numbers cover all Google services except YouTube.
"We are working to implement HTTPS across all of our products. In March 2014, we announced the use of HTTPS-only for Gmail. We continue to work to overcome the technical barriers that make it more difficult to support encryption on some of our products," said the report.
HTTPS is a mechanism that allows a browser or app to securely connect to a website, and relies on SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to secure the connection. This encryption becomes even more important when a user logs in to bank websites or submits credit card information to an online store.
The report comes at a time when Apple has been pressured by the United States government to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the passcode required to unlock the iPhone 5C belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple CEO Tim Cook has refused to unlock the iPhone despite an order by a U.S. judge.
Former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden's shocking revelation in 2013 on the U.S. government's mass surveillance programmes had highlighted the need to encrypt online activities. He claimed vast amounts of telephone and web information of Internet users around the world were recorded under the NSA programme known as PRISM.
Major technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook, had confirmed thousands of their users' data was compromised under the NSA programme.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat to increase encryption of user data
Major technology giants like Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat are now working to beef up security by encryption of user data, according to a report by the Guardian. It said Facebook's messaging service WhatsApp is also planning to encrypt voice calls within weeks.
The report went on to say Facebook is increasing security of its Messenger tool, and Snapchat too is going the same route.