The company demonstrated new security and safety features for its email service at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

The new security feature aims to allow non-technical people to use encryption with the click of a button after an initial setup of a few minutes.

A test or beta version of the encryption software is being released for developers, and it is expected to be rolled out to users in the coming months.

"Our goal is to have this available by the end of the year," Alex Stamos, Yahoo's chief information security officer, said.

"Anybody who has the ability to write an email should have no problem using our email encryption," he said.

Yahoo has been collaborating with Google and its Gmail service on the encryption, and the standards will be compatible, Stamos said, so Yahoo and Gmail users will be able to send each other encrypted messages with a single click.

Yahoo and Google and other online giants took steps to encrypt Internet traffic in the wake of revelations of vast online surveillance programs led by the US National Security Agency, and have argued they never allowed unfettered access to their servers.