Thursday, May 28, 2015

Netflix to start encrypting all data streams

It's official…Netflix has decided to put an end to unencrypted streaming once and for all. In a recent interview, the streaming service giant announced that it will once again be encrypting all the connections between their servers and their client base. This bold move isn't just a small update and this isn't the first time Netflix has announced that it will be pursuing this line of action in order to provide the utmost security for their users.
According to Netflix Director of Streaming Standards Mark Watson, Netflix chose a subset of users to test this new tech on, and found that they lost half of their capacity during the trial run. The main cause of these less than stellar results is the fact that HTTPS is not able to utilize certain optimizations that Netflix employs in their streaming.
That's the techno jargon, but the main reason they stepped back from HTTPS six months ago was the whopping loss in revenue the new technology would cause their company – potentially in the $100's of millions a year.
So, why is Netflix insistent on pursuing this option? As embarrassing as it would be for your neighbors to find out you have a secret passion for John Stamos films, get worried about what will happen to Blair, Nate and Chuck in Gossip Girl, or just want to hear Archer tell his mother to watch her phrasing; that isn't their main concern. Due to the recent attack on Github, Netflix is trying to prevent any “Great Cannon” attacks from entering your home via Man-in-the-middle tactics.
Man-in-the-middle attacks take place when hackers intercept an unencrypted data stream and implant their own code to 'piggyback' to the streams destination. While the Github attack was a showy attack that had no real repercussions (they bombarded a couple of sites with junk, just to take it down); the Great Cannon could be used to install malicious software, key-loggers or even steal private information from the end user – all without the user's knowledge. You always wanted to buy someone else a house in the Bahamas, didn't you?
Ultimately, Netflix is going to be implementing HTTPS on all of their data streams but what does this mean for the typical customer? Not much, actually. While it is true that some users will watch their shows with more confidence and less fear of discovery, most users are not going to notice the difference. There is speculation that there might be a price increase in services, but Netflix hasn't mentioned any solid numbers at this point. Mr. Watson didn't discuss the new figures this move is costing Netflix, but it is unlikely that the users will not take on some of this burden themselves.
So, how much do you love John Stamos? Hopefully enough to ensure that you aren't sacrificing any security measures when streaming the recently announced Full House reboot!