Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) says it will expand the use of encryption to protect customer information, following reports that governments are intercepting data traveling between users and servers or between company data centers.

The company will also step up its legal efforts to protect private data and will make its software code more transparent so customers can reassure themselves Microsoft’s products don’t contain “back doors” allowing access to their information, the Redmond, Washington-based software company said in a post on its official blog Wednesday. The encryption enhancements will be completed by the end of next year, it said.

Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, wrote the blog.

“Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data. In particular, recent press stories have reported allegations of governmental interception and collection – without search warrants or legal subpoenas – of customer data as it travels between customers and servers or between company data centers in our industry,” Smith wrote.

“If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.”

Yahoo! and Google have also announced they’ll beef up encryption, following reports of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency. The NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad to siphon data from Google and Yahoo, circumvented or cracked encryption, and introduced weaknesses and back doors into coding, according to reports in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper based on documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“In light of these allegations,” Microsoft’s Smith wrote, “we’ve decided to take immediate and coordinated action in three areas:

  • “We are expanding encryption across our services.
  • “We are reinforcing legal protections for our customers’ data.
  • “We are enhancing the transparency of our software code, making it easier for customers to reassure themselves that our products do not contain back doors.”