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November 18, 2014

Internet board says ‘make encryption the norm’

Engineers responsible for internet say confidentiality is worth it, despite risks.

By Jimmy Nicholls

The engineering body behind the Internet has called for encryption and confidentiality to be made standard, as part of the network’s infrastructure.

Writing in an online statement, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) said: "We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default.

"We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic."

It added that even information that is worthless on its own can be used as part of a greater profiling effort by scammers, and thus such data should be encrypted as well.

However, it acknowledged that some security procedures such as traffic management and spam prevention rely on the ability to see clear text, meaning that secure connections can create addition risk for systems administrators.

Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have already adopted secure HTTPS connections as the default, leading to warnings from the security company Blue Coat Systems that data is being endangered.

Hugh Thompson, chief security strategist for Blue Coat, said: "For corporations to secure customer data and meet regulatory and compliance requirements, they need the visibility to see the threats hiding in encrypted traffic and the granular control to make sure employee privacy is also maintained."

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Responding to such concerns, the IAB said it would "work with those affected to foster development of new approaches for these activities which allow us to move to an Internet where traffic is confidential by default".

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