Understanding Encrypted Traffic

An excellent article for Wireless Week by Derek Canfield, VP of Analytics at TEOCO, discusses how to manage network traffic whilst accommodating the trend towards 100 percent encrypted traffic. As Canfield observes:

…encryption is designed to protect the consumer — and rightly so. It adds another layer of security and privacy by scrambling data sent over public network connections as it hides the information from other people while allowing the receiving device to decipher the message or content. The trouble is, in hiding the content from prying eyes, you also hide it from the operator trying to provide a service. That matters because if the operator doesn’t get enough visibility of the traffic it is carrying, it can’t necessarily deliver the highest standards of customer service.

Knowing what kind of traffic you are carrying allows you to make decisions that will “protect, prioritize, optimize or balance the network load effectively.” Encryption gets in the way of that by making all traffic look the same. So what is the solution?

…while DPI by itself does not reveal enough of the source material to maintain the highest standards of service, it can be used in conjunction with new real-time quality of experience and consumption analytics to build a far better picture. Combining DPI with these cutting-edge analytics solutions can actually enable operators to extract more intelligence from the encrypted data without compromising its underlying privacy.

That is an appealing prospect, especially if you are the kind of person who values privacy without being a network puritan who believes any kind of traffic management violates a holy commandment to treat all traffic the same. There are good reasons to encrypt all traffic. There are also good reasons to manage traffic load so we are not forced to wastefully throw money at infrastructure because we are prohibited from getting the best performance from it.

You can read Canfield’s article for Wireless Week by clicking here.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.   Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.   Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.
  • Carlos Marques

    One of interesting example is how users praise Whatsapp privacy policies with end-to-end encryption that now is making room for an increasing rate of phishing attacks through Whatsapp messages.

    When things go wrong the connectivity provider is the one on the subscriber top of mind as the responsible for allowing the attack because it came through his phone that uses network X and with whom is has a contract and it’s an… “SMS”.
    Now CSPs have to protect not only against the security and fraud attacks but as well against the negative brand reputation that is arriving from schemes that use encrypted traffic. More ironic yet is the fact that sometimes users receive these kind of attacks when they are connecting to Whatsapp through a Wi-Fi connection that hasn’t anything to do with his network contract.

    • Customer satisfaction is based on a hypothetical framework that the customer constructs when forming an impression of a business. Telcos will be increasingly blamed for everything because customers are pre-disposed to be dissatisfied with telcos. Why? Because telcos already have a long track record of failing customers, unlike the newer internet businesses that are built upon telco networks.