Group proposes encrypting Web traffic to improve security

Ever since former U.S. security consultant Edward Snowden began releasing  information about the extent of Internet spying done by Canada, the United States and Britain experts have been saying one of the best ways of assuring security is to encrypt data.

Now comes word that a working group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has strong support for adding encryption to the next version of the hypertext protocol dubbed HTTP 2.0.

According to a report, most of the world’s Web traffic would be encrypted if the standard is approved.

There are three choices the working group is considering: encryption without server authentication, with server authentication and only using HTTP 2 on pages with secure HTTPS on the open Internet. Pages with standard HTTP addresses would use HTTP 1.

(For those who need the technical details, see this letter)

One account of the discussions concludes that working group participants generally agreed the third option was better than the other two since no new mechanism is required. It is also said that browser makers lean towards always-on encryption of HTTPS traffic.

Ben Sapiro, manager of security and contingency at a Canadian insurance company and a director of the OpenCERT Canada computer emergency response team, said in an interview Friday that there’s lots to like about the proposal.

In fact, he added, organizations now could take steps towards this by forcing Web traffic to use HTTPS, as major Web sites like Google do, and setting up a Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate server behind the firewall.

But he also noted that typically the recommendations of standards bodies take a while to become finalized, often taking “years of debate.” Then applications and Web sites have to shift to handle HTTP 2, he added.

The proposal also doesn’t deal with how to protect encryption keys, he also said.

To get more on this read the whole story here

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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