Email Security, Data Privacy Holes Identified By Google, University Study

Amid reports that the NSA has found a way to replace its email data program, a new study reveals which countries have the highest risks for email security and data privacy invasion.

Email security is significantly better than it was in 2013, but still suffers from widespread issues, according to a report published in collaboration between Google and scholars from the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

One key issue identified by the report is the significant number of email exchanges around the world that do not have secure connections, meaning a hacker could intentionally downgrade encrypted communications to plain text by corrupting the STARTTLS command.



Almost every email server in Tunisia (96.1%) is unsafe, according to the study. Iraq (25.6%), Papua New Guinea (25%), Nepal (24.3%) and Kenya (24.1%) round out the top five countries with the highest percentage of emails downgraded via STARTTLS modification.

Interestingly, the most Web attacks actually originate from the Unites States, according to Symantec’s April 2015 Internet Security Threat Report. This is followed by China, the most likely home for malicious bot-infected computers, and Costa Rica.

It is no wonder then that only 3% of American adults state they are “very confident” that their email providers keep their records private and secure. A majority (56%) responded that they were not confident in the security capabilities of their email providers, per a 2014 Pew Research Center report. 

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