The video streaming giant, Netflix will soon be using the HTTPS protocol to encrypt its customer streams. A great plan that helps ensure that what they watch stays secret. This change will leave Amazon as one of the largest encrypted sites.
Turning on HTTPS on Netflix’s vast network of servers has been an impressive feat by the Netflix tech teams; This was because the demands of implementing TLS are rather severe in comparison to standard HTTP.
Each Netflix server has a 64bit Intel Xeon processor and runs the FreeBSD operating system. A single server can store up to 120 terabytes of data and can server up to 40,000 long length connections. This means the server can use up to 40 gigabits per second of bandwidth.
Netflix attempted to change this six months ago. They changed several dedicated servers to use the TLS protocol to a select set of end users. They compared the performance results with a similar range of end users and the same amount of dedicated servers and saw as much as a 53% capacity hit. The end result of the test finding that this was because of the extra power that encryption requires. The change meant that some of the streaming optimizations were lost.
On Wednesday the director of streaming standards, Mark Watson announced that it was ready to begin rolling out HTTPS for both the website and the content itself. Browser tests will be at scale in the next three months and the full website should be complete in the next coming year.
The performance impact has been restricted due to some TLS optimizations that the Netflix engineers crafted for high performance FreeBSD applications.
Netflix’s entry into the HTTPS world comes as security advocates have been calling on all websites to encrypt their traffic. The force behind these requests is that if HTTPS is used then it can stop state sponsored attacks that countries such as the US and China launch from the internet backbone.
Thank you to The Register for this information