Yahoo Offers Encrypted E-Mail

Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday officially announced a feature that allows users of its e-mail service, Yahoo Mail, to send and receive encrypted messages.

The feature, offered through ZixIt Corp.'s SecureDelivery service, has been in beta testing for some time now, Yahoo users said.

When a user chooses the "SecureDelivery" option, the e-mail message and attachments are encrypted and stored online, Yahoo said. The recipient is sent a notification and the message can be picked up from, a wholly owned subsidiary of ZixIt.

To read the message the recipient must enter a pass phrase. This will unlock a Web page secured by the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) standard.

Yahoo is the first of the major Web portals to provide an encryption service. Competition comes from Ireland-based Hush Communications Corp. through and by Mountain View, Calif.-based Inc.

Another well-known option for sending scrambled messages is with software such as Network Associates Inc.'s Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). This requires that sending and receiving parties install software and create encryption keys. There is however no limitation as to what e-mail address is used.

The new Yahoo service is free of charge and available to anyone with an e-mail address.

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