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Electronic Frontier Foundation Chrome Encryption Firefox The Internet

2016 Saw A Massive Increase In Encrypted Web Traffic (eff.org) 91

EFF's "Deeplinks" blog has published nearly two dozen "2016 in Review" posts over the last nine days, one of which applauds 2016 as "a great year for adoption of HTTPS encryption for secure connections to websites." An anonymous reader writes: In 2016 most pages viewed on the web were encrypted. And over 21 million web sites obtained security certificates -- often for the first time -- through Let's Encrypt. But "a sizeable part of the growth in HTTPS came from very large hosting providers that decided to make HTTPS a default for sites that they host, including OVH, Wordpress.com, Shopify, Tumblr, Squarespace, and many others," EFF writes. Other factors included the support of Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 by Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
Other "2016 in Review" posts from EFF include Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet and DRM vs. Civil Liberties. Click through for a complete list of all EFF "2016 in Review" posts.
Chipping Away at National Security Letters: 2016 in Review
Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Wide Web): 2016 in Review
Fighting for Fair Use and Safer Harbors: 2016 in Review
Secure Messaging Takes Some Steps Forward, Some Steps Back: 2016 In Review
Most Young Gig Economy Companies Way Behind On Protecting User Data: 2016 In Review
Dark Skies for International Copyright: 2016 in Review
Congress Gives FOIA a Modest but Important Update For Its 50th Birthday: 2016 in Review
Our Fight to Rein In the CFAA: 2016 in Review
The Patent Troll Abides: 2016 in Review
DRM vs. Civil Liberties: 2016 in Review
The Fight to Rein in NSA Surveillance: 2016 in Review
The Year in Government Hacking: 2016 in Review
What Happened to Unlocking the Box? 2016 in Review
Top 5 Threats to Transparency: 2016 in Review
Technical Developments in Cryptography: 2016 in Review
This Year in U.S. Copyright Policy: 2016 in Review
Open Access Rewards Passionate Curiosity: 2016 in Review
Censorship on Social Media: 2016 in Review
Defending Student Data from Classrooms to the Cloud: 2016 in Review
Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet: 2016 in Review
U.S. Trade Representative Gets Piracy Website Listing Notoriously Wrong
HTTPS Deployment Growing by Leaps and Bounds: 2016 in Review
Defending the Digital Future: 2016 in Review
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2016 Saw A Massive Increase In Encrypted Web Traffic

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  • A happy new year to you all

    And on topic: I don't know much about cybersecurity but I would like to make sure the emails I send can not be read easily by people to whom my emails are not addressed. How can I go about that?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you just need them to not be decrypted in transit, you may be ok as long as you and they are both using something that shoves them around with TLS. Google does this, as do many others. If everyone is pushing the data encrypted, it won't be able to be read by someone who is recording that traffic.

      https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/saferemail/

      If you need only your recipients to be able to read the messages EVER, then you need them to do something too. Anything in a gmail inbox, for instance, is r

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Try Signal. It's available for Android and iOS. It's messaging as opposed to email, but it's easier to use than the only real option for email (PGP).

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        There are many relatively secure messaging programs for Android and iOS but for work people use email and that is for some reason still as secure as when I started using the internet in 1992. That's why I asked for a safe way of sending email.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And on topic: I don't know much about cybersecurity but I would like to make sure the emails I send can not be read easily by people to whom my emails are not addressed. How can I go about that?

      All you have is an address. To make an analogy to physical mail there's some security in sending letters instead of postcards but really most is in the postal system and the security of the recipient's mailbox which is out of your control. Not much you can do if I want it on my web mail, it's going to semi-permanently live on someone else's server in plaintext. If you want more security than that you need your communication partner to work with you, even if it's so low tech that you call them up and say the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2017 @04:43AM (#53587397)

    A true hero to anyone concerned about internet privacy.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @10:17AM (#53587861) Homepage Journal

      Thank you Mr. Snowden!!!

      Snowden's revelations were years ago, and probably had very little impact on this. The reason HTTPS went way up in 2016 is that Apple said that they were going to mandate use of HTTPS in all iOS apps, which forced all the ad networks to switch to HTTPS.

      Unfortunately, their subsequent decertification of StartSSL (the only CA whose free certificates don't require continuous auto-renewal) is likely to make a large number of smaller sites go back from HTTPS to HTTP, erasing much of the benefit.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        StartSSL (the only CA whose free certificates don't require continuous auto-renewal)

        StartSSL certificates had to be renewed every 366 days.

      • Snowden's revelations were years ago, and probably had very little impact on this.

        You are very wrong (this kind of change takes time...)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why doesn't /. have an .onion site?

    You can set this up in like 5 mins., and you can generate an 8 char. vanity domain using Garlic in probably an hour or two.

    What is the excuse?

  • Yes but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @05:35AM (#53587469)

    It would have been all great if governments couldn't exert power over certificate authorities. The reality however is different.

    We need a universally adopted system which doesn't allow to circumvent the process of issuing certificates or at least protect against rogue certificates - then we may sing praises.

    • Re:Yes but (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @06:54AM (#53587561)

      Governments can do that, but not nearly so easily. If they use bulk interception that way, the site operator may well notice eventually - it's trivial to check for. Just contact a few random site users and ask them what cert hash they are seeing. It also destroys trust in the CA, which means people switch to another on that cannot be so easily compromised by that specific government.

      SSL and a CA system doesn't make it impossible to monitor individuals, just makes it impossible to monitor entire populations without a substantial risk of detection.

      • If they use bulk interception that way, the site operator may well notice eventually - it's trivial to check for. Just contact a few random site users and ask them what cert hash they are seeing.

        You must be smoking some strong weed if you believe that the average Joe even grasps the concept of CA. Most of them don't even understand what connection encryption is. All they understand is that if there's a green lock sign next to the domain name then they are secure. Then we've already seen how a lock sign can

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          You must be smoking some strong weed if you believe that the average Joe even grasps the concept of CA. Most of them don't even understand what connection encryption is.

          You don't need random users, just traffic appearing like it so they don't MITM everyone but your test connection. Try it from home or your private cell phone. Ask a friend or family member to check. Use a public WiFi spot or go to a library. Use a proxy or VPN. Ask some privacy watchdog organization for volunteers. If any of them get the wrong certificate it's happening. You're not trying to find targeted attacks, you just want to know if they have a giant dragnet doing it to everyone. Did you see the Snowd

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > It also destroys trust in the CA, which means people switch to another on that cannot be so easily compromised by that specific government.

        $DEITY, I wish. CAs have inappropriately issued _wide_ certs (for names such as "mail" or "news") to people, issued certs to entities that clearly didn't control those domains, left their private keys on a publicly accessible portion of their website (!), issued certs that could be used to issue _more_ certs for _any_ domain(!!), and on and on and on. AFAIK, only _o

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          AFAIK, only _one_ CA has ever been removed from web browsers' trusted issuer lists, and that's DigiNotar.

          Certificates issued by StartCom and WoSign on or after 2016-10-21 are distrusted [mozilla.org] because of backdating to circumvent SHA-1 phase-out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That was a close one, wasn't it? We could almost have had DNSSEC based key management, but instead "we" managed to perpetuate the borken certificate authority system, now with less verification.

    • Re:Yes but (Score:4, Informative)

      by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @11:10AM (#53587969)

      We've had a viable system [wikipedia.org] on the table for years now, but certain big players have backed away from it in favor of a doubling down on the CA model.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Certificate transparency (CT) is making it unlikely any CA will ever issue a certificate to anyone other than the legitimate owner of a site. The risk of getting caught is nearly 100%. Once CT gets some added auditing features built into the browsers even the NSA will have difficulty preventing a target from knowing they have been presented with a fraudulent certificate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certificate_Transparency/ [wikipedia.org]
  • At which point is not lets encrypt a conspiracy to reduce the number of sites with self-signed certificates?
    • Let's Encrypt is just an low price alternative to small webservers...

      * hurry: get the tinfoil hat!
  • Google is the reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yuvcifjt ( 4161545 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @08:11AM (#53587659)

    As much as I hate and disdain the spying empire Google; private companies only thought about adopting https because of Google's hint of ranking sites based on utilising https encryption.

    Anything Google does is for its own selfish purpose, not for the good of humanity - so the reason for the push towards https is so that Google (almost alone) has analytics and information about site visitors and the amount of money e-commerce and such sites are making. Without encryption, countless other firms (such as alexa) was capturing user analytics through approaching different providers, and often directly from ISP's.

    Remember, Google's trackers are almost ubiquitous [softpedia.com] (unlike facebook), so they want to own alone the vast amounts of info on users and organisations - and then use this info to either catalogue people and/or sell this to evil companies/organisations, such as insurance firms and governments.

    Information is power, user information is even more power, especially if you alone hold that data.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      That's no doubt part of it, but I think the bigger cause was Apple threatening to stop allowing new submissions of apps unless they moved to HTTPS (with only narrow exceptions for web views), which meant that every ad network was forced to switch to HTTPS if they wanted to keep their lucrative iOS clients. As a side effect, most ads shown on normal websites are now served via HTTPS, too.

  • which are used by businesses, schools, government agencies, and do-it-yourselfers who don't want to rely on the users to maintain and use an end-point filter. Google and Facebook want you to be able to see their ads at work! There are two known solutions to filtering encrypted content at the border: explicit proxy configured by group policy, or transparent proxy with dedicated certificate authority. Both have reliability and privacy issues.

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