As part of their efforts to make users safer, Google has begun publishing regular Transparency Reports detailing steps it’s taken to integrate encryption into its products and services. In the most recent report, Google made mention of the use of the encrypted HTTPS connections at work in various products like Google Drive, Finance, Gmail, Maps, News, ads and now YouTube and Google Calendar.
Google proudly pointed to the fact that, for YouTube, HTTPS now accounts for 97 percent of all connections to the site. Calendar wasn’t far behind, with 93 percent of connections now encrypted. While ostensibly the switch to HTTPS was designed to protect users, Google reports that it has led to a better steaming experience.
“You watch YouTube videos on everything from flip phones to smart TVs,” Google Product Manager and Chrome Security expert Emily Schechter wrote in the company’s most recent press release. “We A/B tested HTTPS on every device to ensure that users would not be negatively impacted. We found that HTTPS improved quality of experience on most clients: by ensuring content integrity, we virtually eliminated many types of streaming errors.”
These encrypted connections offer significant protection for users from sophisticated malware injection attacks. These attacks can potentially infect thousands of sites at once and are often forwarded attached to seemingly benign or cute videos.
While 97 percent is obviously an overwhelming majority of connections, some devices still are accessing YouTube on less secure servers by HTTP, which Schechter attributes to these devices “not fully support[ing] modern HTTPS.”
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