​Nearly all video traffic from YouTube is now encrypted

Google's HTTPS rollout progress report
Google's HTTPS rollout progress report

Two years after enabling HTTPS connections to YouTube, Google reports that 97 percent of traffic to and from the platform is encrypted.

With that milestone for securing YouTube traffic, Google has now added it and Calendar traffic data to its HTTPS Transparency Report. Google began publishing HTTPS data in March to show progress on its efforts to encrypt web traffic to Gmail, Drive, Maps, News, Finance and Advertising.

Six months ago, 75 percent of requests to Google’s servers were encrypted whereas today that figure stands at 84 percent. Some services like Gmail, which Google made HTTPS by default in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks, are totally encrypted, while less than 70 percent of traffic to Finance and News is encrypted.

Traffic to YouTube isn’t entirely encrypted yet due to older devices that don’t support modern HTTPS, such as Transport Layer Security, according to Google. However the search firm is planning to gradually phase out all insecure connections.

One way it’s helping eliminate HTTP connections is via the recent introduction of HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) for www.google.com, which forces connections to services on the domain to be done with HTTPS. Google is also using HSTS on YouTube while all ads on YouTube have been encrypted since 2014.

Google said some of the main challenges it faced in moving the video platform to HTTPS included migrating the Google Global Cache, its network of edge nodes to accelerate content delivery, to HTTPS too. The company also tested HTTPS on every device, from flip phones to smart TVs, and claims for most devices encryption improved the experience by eliminating a range of streaming errors.

Finally, it’s still continuing to deal with challenges caused by mixed content, where a resource from a third-party server is delivered via HTTP. Google said it will be blocking all mixed content on the web, iOS and Android devices.

Google has stepped up its push for encryption everywhere over the past few years, and is encouraging website operators to follow suit by using HTTPS as a signal in its search ranking algorithm.

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