In 2011, Joi Ito (a Japanese-American activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Director of the MIT Media Lab), wrote an article ‘the Internet is a belief system’ as opposed to just a technology. The New York Times eventually developed it into ‘In an Open-Source Society, Innovating by the Seat of Our Pants’. The crux of the article is the philosophy that Internet is a small group of people working together, with the potential to create great things.
And in order to enable people to work together, the next generation Internet protocols such as SPDY and HTTP/2 are being developed with prime focus on water-tight encryption. The reason – governments, ISPs, and hackers intercepting, throttling, and censoring traffic as the Internet keeps growing.
Anticipating this paradigm shift, CloudFlare recently introduced Universal SSL to all its customers, including the 2 million sites that have signed up for their free version. CloudFlare will automatically provision an SSL certificate for all its customers that will accept HTTPS connections for their domains and subdomains. Sites without an SSL certificate will be provisioned with CloudFlare’s Flexible SSL mode – which basically means that traffic from browsers to CloudFlare will be encrypted, but not that from CloudFlare to a site’s origin server. This can be resolved later by simply installing an SSL certificate.
CloudFlare limits support only to modern browsers which support ECDSA and Server Name Indication. They’ve been studying browser traffic to determine the percentage of requests coming from modern browsers – which is more than 80% globally and is steadily increasing.
CloudFlare has arrived at this decision despite being aware of the fact that launching Universal SSL may hurt their revenue as SSL remains one of key reasons why people upgrade to a paid plan. They are proud to be playing a part in helping advance the philosophy – the Internet is a belief system; and are hopeful other organizations will follow suit in providing SSL to all their customers at no additional cost.
With this bold move CloudFlare has taken a rather daring, yet ethical stance wherein it believes in the ideology of making the Internet an environment that allows great ideas to come to life, without the creator having to worry if the idea or its users will be exposed to any sort of threat – be it monetary or privacy infringement. The Digital landscape is no longer being considered separate from other orthodox modes of business, but an evolved part of the whole ecosystem. And hence, today’s organizations need to think on the same lines as CloudFlare and strive towards enhancing the overall online experience – sometimes, even at the cost of certain business – that is, if they want to be around tomorrow…