PrivateSky guards online exchanges from unwanted eyes

On Wednesday a free service called PrivateSky was launched. It lets Internet users shield email, Facebook updates, and other exchanges from Internet snoops.

According to AFP, the service from startup CertiVox comes at a time where there appears to a surge in hacking. Hackers have been cracking defenses at companies, attacking public websites, and weaseling their way into email accounts to look at the contents.


PrivateSky provides encryption on Internet Explorer (IE) browsers. It encrypts anything that people type into message boxes and it only decodes it for people that the user choses.


Users highlight text from blog posts, Facebook updates, email messages and then they decide who will be allowed to read them. The communications are decrypted only for the intended recipients.


“It is literally one click encryption and decryption,” said CertiVox founder and chief executive Brian Spector.


Trend Micro, an Internet security firm, warned this month that cyberattackers have tried to compromise Web-based email services from Microsoft and Yahoo! as well as Google.


“There has been a variety of recent attacks on popular Webmail platforms,” Trend Micro senior threat researcher Nart Villeneuve said in an online post. “In addition to Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail have also been targeted.”


The news came from Trend Micro after Google claimed that a cyber-snooping campaign from China had zeroed in on the Gmail accounts of US officials, military personnel, journalists, and Chinese political activists. It happened in several Asian countries, mostly in South Korea.


Email encryption is generally viewed as the best way to stop people from spying on inboxes. Unfortunately the process of encryption usually takes a bit of software skill.


With PrivateSky, CertiVox wanted to make encryption easy. “This is kind of like arming the citizenry,” Spector said.


Web-based email such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail can be encrypted with ease thanks to the service. It also works for posts on social networks.


Currently the service is only available on IE browsers. The reasoning behind that is due to IE’s global popularity, but CertiVox is adapting the service for other Web browsing software. Eventually CertiVox wants to use their encryption service to protect photos and other large data files as well as text.


The application for IE browsers is available for download online.