Facebook has long battled fake profiles, spam bots, malicious apps, and more. Now, it’s looking to ramp up security by switching all users to secure Facebook HTTPS connections. While the move will help secure user accounts more effectively, it also has the potential to slow down user connections.
While Facebook’s infrastructure is capable of handling millions of secure connections, the load time on secured pages are always slightly slower than standard HTTP pages because of the way they are called by the server. Users who find the speed to be an issue can opt-out of the HTTPS program via their Facebook user account.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Chances are you’ve seen the protocol as it has been deployed for popular portals including Twitter and Gmail. Oftentimes HTTPS is implemented when users log into to a website or when they are conducting online banking. HTTPS encrypts an entire webpage to prevent any information from being snooped on by outside sources.
HTTPS was first implemented as an opt-in feature by Facebook in January of 2011. The program is most useful via public WiFi environments where programs such as Firesheep are capable stealing access to online accounts. Even if you only use Facebook at home on your own private network, it’s still a good safety measure to keep things secure.
Throughout the week, this protocol will roll out to all US users and then to the rest of the world thereafter.
Facebook’s security policy manager Fred Wolens tells TechCrunch that moving to HTTPS may:
“Slow down connections only slightly.”
Wolens further notes that
“Deployed significant performance enhancements to [its] load balancing infrastructure to mitigate most of the impact.”
With internet connection speeds improving both on broadband and mobile networks over the last several years the difference in page load times should be hardly noticeable.