Encryption. It’s a volatile subject at the moment, especially in the wake of last Friday’s horrific attacks in Paris. The UK government has been campaigning against unbreakable encryption in the run up to the publication of the Investigatory Powers Bill which was released last week and there are new calls following the attacks on Friday both in the US and Europe that the attackers “went dark” meaning they planned the attacks using encrypted communications which essentially foiled the security services.
Since Edward Snowden made his first releases in the spring of 2014 technology and mobile companies have been playing catch-up dealing the devastating consequences of the revelations in terms of damaging PR as it became clear that the largest technology companies, vendors and carriers had all been co-operating with the ever increasing and illegal demands of the NSA.
One of the impacts of these revelations was an immediate spike in encrypted traffic as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Instagram and Netflix all turned on encryption by default. In late 2014 Google even went so far as to include HTTPS, encrypted web traffic, as a ranking signal for search results. Ranking encrypted websites higher on the search results.
So what does this mean for carriers? With 55% of mobile traffic in APAC being made up of video streaming currently with GSMA projecting it to rise to over 70% by 2019 combined with all the social traffic being encrypted it makes knowing more about how your subscribers are using mobile data impossible.
It’s a delicate balance. As more traffic is encrypted carriers can only operate at the highest QoS level and this will inevitably result in poorer service and higher costs that will be passed onto the subscribers in the end.
Carriers need to think long and hard before investing further into the large scale ‘Big Data’ projects where they are utilising web traffic or deep packet inspection (DPI) in order to segment and target subscribers or optimise their network based on content demand. Loosing visibility of the vital ‘payload’ of the traffic will make avoiding the fate of a dumb pipe that much harder for the traditional CSPs.