Microsoft is working on speeding up encrypted (HTTPS) internet connections. The Redmond technology giant has added a faster way of encrypting internet traffic in the test version of its Edge browser.
More than half of today’s internet traffic is encrypted using a technology called TLS.
“This is great for security and privacy, but we would like to deploy encryption without slowing down the web”, according to Microsoft’s Christian Huitema. Currently TLS 1.3, a new standard, is in development. This standard should increase the speed of encrypted connections but TLS 1.3 is not a finalized standard. According to Huitema there is no need to wait till TLS 1.3 is finalized to speed up encrypted connections, because there are other ways to speed them up.
This can be done with TCP Fast Open and TLS False Start, he writes in a blog on the Microsoft website.
“With current standards, connections requiring TLS over TCP require round trips to the server (3-RTT) to negotiate—1 for TCP and 2 for TLS—before starting sending something useful, like the first HTTP GET command. This gets even more problematic when sites split content across multiple domains. In practice, adding encryption adds delays in the range of hundreds of milliseconds to the page load time. Research shows that even 250ms delay is enough for a user to consider trying another website”, he explains.
Microsoft’s goal is to eliminate all these round trips through TLS 1.3. Edge users can now benefit from faster encrypted connections because it utilizes TCP Fast Open technology. In the current test version this is disabled by default and has to be manually enabled. TCP Fast Open can be managed via about:flags in Microsoft Edge.
It’s expected that the TLS 1.3 standard will be published later this year.