A major publisher moving entirely to HTTPS would be a significant milestone in the movement for encryption everywhere and would be a first for the publishing industry for an organisation on the scale of the BBC. While Google, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and many other tech companies have made their sites HTTPS by default, only a handful of media companies have done so due to several technical challenges.
The New York Times outlined some of these challenges when it, in 2014, announced it was embracing HTTPS and called on other news sites to make their sites "fully on HTTPS by the end of 2015". Yet it still hasn't achieved that for its site. Part of the problem for commercial publishers are ads that don't support the secure protocol, the Internet Advertising Bureau pointed out last year when calling on more publishers to support secure connections.
BBC doesn't deal with ads in implementing HTTPS, however Tweed listed a number of "real challenges" it faces, such as contractual issues with CDN providers, compute power to handle encryption, and legacy software.
"Enabling HTTPS via our CDN partners, to maintain functionality at times when we deliver BBC Online through a CDN, required a host of technical & contractual changes," explained Tweed.
The BBC, as a public service broadcaster also needs to support all devices, from smart TVs to to phones through services such as iPlayer, but Tweed noted these "bring unique challenges for managing HTTPS configurations, and many don't support HTTPS at all".
Tweedy said that in coming months his department will be evaluating audio and video delivery via HTTPS, support for HTTP/2, and improved HTTPS performance for smartphones.
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