CloudFlare has begun rolling out secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption as standard to all customer websites in a bid to help protect them from prying eyes online.
Chief executive Matthew Prince announced the service in a blog post, confirming it has already rolled out the service to two million sites and plans to have all of its customers protected by Thursday.
SSL is a common security tool that encrypts the connection between computers and servers to help prevent third parties from intercepting or interfering with search activities and data in transit.
The move is a key strategy shift from CloudFlare's previous price plan strategy, which used SSL as a key means to entice free users to upgrade to a paid-for version of its services.
Prince said the firm chose to go ahead with the rollout, despite its potential revenue impact, for moral, as opposed to fiscal, reasons.
"We went over our plans for launching Universal SSL and how doing so may hurt our revenue, given that SSL is one of the reasons people upgrade to a paid plan. But everyone on CloudFlare's board was unanimous: even if it does hurt revenue in the short term, it's the right thing to do," read the post.
"Having cutting-edge encryption may not seem important to a small blog, but it is critical to advancing the encrypted-by-default future of the internet. Every byte, however seemingly mundane, that flows encrypted across the internet makes it more difficult for those who wish to intercept, throttle or censor the web."
Prince said while he wants to make SSL available to all customers, the ongoing use of legacy browsers and services mean some will initially be unable to support the security service. Specifically Prince said versions of Internet Explorer running on Windows XP and any version of Android that came before Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will not be supported.
Despite the news, the majority of sites should be supported as CloudFlare currently lists around 80 percent of its customers as using modern web browsers.
The CloudFlare founder said he hoped the rollout would act as yet another reason for web users to migrate to use supported, modern operating systems and services.
"[Our hope] is that Universal SSL will be yet another reason, along with Google and Firefox deprecating SHA-1-signed certs [certificates] and Microsoft ceasing support for Windows XP, to encourage people to upgrade to a modern browser running on a modern OS. Sometimes progress requires sacrificing some backward compatibility," read the post.
The SSL rollout comes just after CloudFlare rolled out a "Keyless" SSL technology it claims will let customers encrypt web data without having to hand over their private SSL keys. Keyless SSL is reportedly more secure than regular SSL.
It works by removing the need for the company to share their key – the item that establishes their identity and decrypts data at the end of the secure connection – with CloudFlare, as they would have to with regular SSL.
For more information on cloud security, visit the Intel IT Center.
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