Although given little prominence in the just published annual report on Global Internet Phenomena by Sandvine, a careful reading of the report shows an interesting thing, particularly when compared to last year’s findings…
SSL traffic has over tripled in Europe (from 1.47 percent to 6.1 percent), has increased substantially in North America (from 2.39 percent to 3.8 percent), and has skyrocketed in Latin America (from 1.8 percent to 10.37 percent).
In Asia-Pacific 1.36 percent, and in Africa 6.77 percent, of internet traffic was SSL in 2014, but no figures are available for last year. In Asia-Pacific’s case this is because last year SSL traffic was not popular enough to make the ‘Top 10 Peak Period Applications’ list, while figures for Africa are a new inclusion in the Sandvine report.
TorrentFreak attributes this substantial rise in SSL traffic to the growing use of VPN to hide BitTorrent downloading (which also remains high), although concern about government surveillance following the on-going Edward Snowden revelations about blanket NSA surveillance is also likely to play a role (and likely helps explains the huge increase particularly in Europe and Latin America, where reaction against the revelations has been particularly strong).
Of course, news that VPN use is booming (the most secure commonly used VPN protocol, OpenVPN, uses OpenSSL libraries) is great for us, but we also think that it is great for for all netizens, as the more internet traffic that is encrypted, the harder the NSA’s job will be. We are also encouraged to see a growing maturity among internet users, who are demonstrating that they are willing and able to take matters into their own hands, taking concrete steps to improve their online privacy.