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Open Internet Standards Open Standards Everywhere Strengthening the Internet

Speed Matters: How Businesses Can Improve User Experience Using Open Standards

A recent report – Milliseconds make Millions – commissioned by Google and published by Deloitte, has shown that mobile website speed has a direct impact on user experience. Reducing latency and decreasing load times by just 0.1 second can positively affect conversion rates potentially leading to an increase in net earnings.

Over a four-week period, Deloitte’s research team analyzed mobile web data from 37 retail, travel, luxury, and lead generation brands throughout Europe and the U.S. Results showed that by decreasing load time by 0.1s, the average conversion rate grew by 8% for retail sites and by 10% for travel sites. The team also observed an increase in engagement, page views, and the amount of money spent by website visitors when sites loaded faster.

Multiple studies have consistently shown that faster page load speeds will result in better conversion rates. Akamai’s 2017 Online Retail Performance Report, for example, showed that a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can reduce conversion rates by 7% and that over half (53%) of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

HTTP/2 and IPv6: Faster and More Available

There’s good news: making some relatively simple changes to your webserver configuration could help to improve your website’s user experience as well as making it more available.

Implementing HTTP/2, for example, can speed up webserver performance by enabling browsers to download multiple files simultaneously over the same connection. This means that all of the files needed to display a webpage effectively are downloaded faster, enabling users to access content sooner.

And, as more and more people come online it’s likely that they will be connecting via IPv6 rather than over IPv4: over 90% of Reliance Jio’s 387.5 million 4G subscribers connect to the Internet via IPv6. So, by ensuring that your website is available over IPv6, the number of users that could potentially visit your site is greatly increased. IPv6 also optimizes the route that Internet traffic takes, which can also lead to improved website performance.

Improve Your Website

The Internet Society’s Open Standards Everywhere (OSE) project promotes the use of open Internet standards that can help to improve website speed, security, and availability. We’re working to equip everyone with the knowledge to make simple changes to some of the most widely used webservers (including NGNIX and Apache) by providing simple how-to guides to enabling HTTP/2 and IPv6 as well as other standards, including TLS 1.3 and DNSSEC.

First, test your website to see how well it supports open Internet standards. If you’re at 100%, congratulations: your website users are already getting a more enhanced experience! If you don’t quite get a perfect score, we might be able to help.

If you have access to the administrative interface of your webserver:
Take a look at our crowdsourced step-by-step documentation to see how you can make improvements. Once you’ve implemented the latest open standards, test your website again and see whether your score has improved. You can also consider contributing your experience to our documentation to help others make changes.

If you use a Content Delivery Network (CDN):
Businesses, large and small, often use CDN services to optimize their websites. Most CDNs enable HTTP/2 and IPv6 by default even if these protocols are not enabled on the original webserver, so your website could already be offering an improved user experience. Check with your CDN if you are unsure and ask them to enable these protocols if they have not done so already.

If you are using a hosting company and cannot access your webserver to make changes:
There is unfortunately not much that you can do to make changes to your webserver. You could switch to a provider that does offer its customers the option to enable HTTP/2 and IPv6 and other open Internet standards. Or you could contact your provider and ask them if they are planning on implementing these standards for their customers in the near future.

We’re in the process of developing short tutorials and training courses to further support people who want to make improvements. We’ll launch these over the coming months.

Making the Case

The conclusions are clear: as the number of consumers connecting to the Internet increases, those businesses that can deliver a faster online user experience for visitors will benefit from a higher conversion rate than those that can’t.

But it’s not just online retailers and e-commerce that should be paying attention: any call to action on your website can be considered a conversion. Requesting signatures for an online petition, asking people to support community networks, or recruiting new members for an Internet Society Chapter could all potentially be positively impacted by increased website speeds.

So what are you waiting for? Find out how to take action now.


Image by Sabri Tuzcu via Unsplash

Categories
Open Standards Everywhere

IPv6 Buzz Podcast Dives into Open Standards Everywhere

What are the challenges with applications supporting IPv6? What do people, particularly those working in enterprises, need to know about how servers and applications work with IPv6? What is the Internet Society’s Open Standards Everywhere project doing to help? How can people get more involved?

To answer all these questions and more, I recently joined Scott Hogg and Tom Coffeen on their IPv6 Buzz Podcast episode 53. You can listen here:

It was a very enjoyable conversation! Thanks to Scott and Tom for having me on their show. I also want to thank Ed Horley, who first contacted me about joining the show but with schedule conflicts was not able to join the recording. I would also encourage you to listen to other IPv6 Buzz episodes to learn more about IPv6.

If you would like to help in the work to get open standards deployed everywhere, please:

Categories
Open Standards Everywhere Strengthening the Internet

In Africa, An Open Internet Standards Course for Universities

Seventy university students from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana gained insights into open Internet standards

Many of the Internet standards that make the Internet work today are developed using open processes. Early exposure to these processes could significantly help future engineers play a role in the evolution of the Internet.

Next Generation of Open Internet Standards Experts in Africa

To expose the next generation of African experts to open Internet standards, the Internet Society put together a short pilot course on Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). IPSec is a technology used to improve communication security between devices on the Internet.

To promote the teaching of open Internet standards in African Universities, the one-month course brought together 70 students from 4 African universities from DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana. The pilot course was designed to provide university lecturers with additional training material to support existing courses at universities.

Facilitators

Technology experts Dr. Daniel Migault, Professor Nabil Benamar, and Loganaden Velvindron facilitated the learning experience. Between March and April 2020, they delivered online lectures for three weeks before opening up a week for student assignments.

The Internet Society’s Regional Vice President for Africa Dawit Bekele said the course was designed to be used as additional teaching content that could easily be integrated by teachers and lecturers – without having to alter their current teaching curricula. This would allow the universities to teach current Internet technology within their existing educational programs.

Rooting Open Standards in African Universities

“Lecturers were required to enroll their students and support them during the pilot course, while facilitators helped by providing content and assessing the assignments,” he added.

For Bekele, the innovative approach is meant to help root the teaching of open Internet standards in universities across Africa without adding too much burden on lecturers.

On June 26th, a virtual ceremony recognized the best students and lecturers for their work. During the event, Bekele, on the behalf of the Internet Society, thanked the participants, facilitators, and staff who supported the development of the course. He also urged participant universities to find ways of rolling out similar courses to expose students to current technologies.

Learn about Open Standards Everywhere and join us in deploying open standards to help build a bigger, stronger Internet!

Categories
Open Standards Everywhere Strengthening the Internet

Open Standards Everywhere: How the Kolkata Chapter Got a Perfect Score

In early May 2020, the Open Standards Everywhere (OSE) project held a series of virtual training sessions for Internet Society Chapters. Over 70 Chapter representatives from around the world learned, in English, French, or Spanish, how to improve the overall security and availability of their Chapter’s websites and web servers by enabling IPv6, HTTP/2, TLS, and DNSSEC.

To assess everyone’s progress we tested each Chapter’s website before and after the training sessions using internet.nl and http2.pro. As a result of the OSE training sessions, many Chapters were able to significantly increase their website’s compliance. But one Chapter in particular, ISOC Kolkata, was able to take its website from 32% compliance to a whopping 100%. We caught up with ISOC Kolkata member Rittika Ratawa, who was nominated by the Chapter to attend the training, to find out more.

The Internet Society: What changes did you make to isockolkata.in as a direct result of the OSE virtual training session?

Rittika: After the training session, the Chapter made several changes. Firstly, we changed our DNS service provider as the one we had been using did not offer DNSSEC services or IPv6. Then we enabled DNSSEC by providing the DS records to our registrar. We configured our website to use HSTS in the .htaccess file and deployed TLS 1.3 using our Content Delivery Network’s (CDN) proxy service. Finally, to improve email security, we added an SPF record to help prevent email spoofing, enabled DKIM so our emails are now encrypted, and enabled DMARC to help manage spam.

Why is it important for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in your region to be aware of the protocols, standards and concepts that were discussed during the OSE virtual training session?

It’s very important for ISPs and CDNs – and everyone else really – to implement and maintain common security practices. We also need to make sure that everyone knows that there are open standards in use so that we can collectively contribute to a more robust and secure online ecosystem and also create a sense of trust for end users. For some of the things that we needed to do to bring the Chapter’s website into compliance, it was as simple as asking our CDN and DNS service provider/registrar to make some changes on their end and the OSE training sessions equipped us with the knowledge to do that.

IPv6 improves website availability and reachability and DNSSEC and HTTP/2 improve security. How are these Internet standards improving access, availability, and security for the Kolkata Chapter’s members and Internet users in India in general?

In India, Reliance Industries’ Jio network offers high speed Internet across India through its 4G network and fiber service. Its IPv6 network, for example, has vastly increased Internet access and opened up access to millions of people across the country. Now, almost 90% of Jio’s 4g LTE subscribers connect to the Internet via IPv6. And, there are so many reasons why it’s crucial for everyone to ensure that their websites and web servers are more secure. One compelling reason is financial: the cost of a substantial DNS attack in India now stands at around $800,000. If we can all work together to reduce such attacks by ensuring that our servers and sites conform to the latest security standards, we can help mitigate these financial impacts.

How have you and other members of the ISOC Kolkata Chapter benefited from the activities that the Chapter is involved in?

The ISOC Kolkata Chapter is a pioneering force in many local, regional, and national technical activities which are impacting not only the West Bengal region but also the entire country.

For the last six years the Chapter has advocated for more critical Internet Infrastructure to be installed across the country to support a resilient Internet backbone. As a result of a concerted community effort, the number of root server instances in India has increased hugely. With the support of local organizations and ICANN, the Chapter hosted India’s first L-Root server instance in 2015. To help minimize the latency for the smaller ISPs, the community also began working on IIFON-Kolkata-IX – a community Internet exchange point – in 2016 to help keep Internet traffic local and costs low.

The Chapter is also involved in Internet operation research alongside engineering students and researchers from different colleges and organizations and hosts capacity building programs with the help of the Internet Society, APNIC, ICANN, Government agencies, and community supporters. To date – and to name just a few –  the Chapter has participated in and collaborated on IPv6 and DNS/DNSSEC Workshops hosted by APNIC and ICANN and is one of the founding members of the India School of Internet Governance (INSIG). In 2019, after there were security issues with hosting the South Asia Network Operators Group (SANOG) 34 meeting in Sri Lanka, the Chapter stepped in at the last minute and offered to host it. Within four months, the event had been re-planned and executed – a great volunteer-led initiative!

The Chapter is also heavily involved in capacity building initiatives and is helping regional organizations with the implementation of the open standards that support regional languages on the Internet. One such initiative is developing support for and promoting the IETF’s Email Address Internationalization (eai) Working Group’s Request For Comments (RFCs). And, in 2015, the Chapter was awarded a Beyond the Net Grant to set up the India IETF Capacity Building Program.

As a college student and proud Chapter member, I have been privileged to take part in many of these activities mentioned above as well as the OSE training sessions. The Kolkata Chapter often conducts workshops and sessions at my college and I have also been able to attend many other Chapter-related workshops and events across the region.

Rittika Ratawa is a final year student studying for a B.Tech in Information Technology at the MCKV Institute of Engineering in Kolkata, India and is an active member of the Internet Society Kolkata Chapter. With thanks also to Anand Raje, Internet Society Kolkata Chapter Chair.

Do you want to learn how to make your web server as secure as possible while using the latest open security standards? Find out more about the OSE project and what you can do to improve your website’s security and availability.


Image: Rittika Ratawa, middle row, fifth from right, during the Kolkata Chapter-hosted SANOG-34 event in 2019

Categories
Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) IPv6 Open Standards Everywhere Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Listen to the Hedge Podcast 39 to Learn about the Open Standards Everywhere Project

What is our Open Standards Everywhere (OSE) project all about? How did it get started? What are the project goals? What are some of the challenges web server operators face? How can we work together to make web servers more secure and available?

Recently Russ White and his team interviewed me on The Hedge Podcast Episode 39 to discuss all these questions and much more. I’ve known Russ for a good number of years and it was fun to talk with him and his co-hosts Eyvonne Sharp and Tom Ammon about all things related to the OSE project. I hope you enjoy listening to the episode as much as we enjoyed having the conversation!

Listen now

I would encourage you to listen to some of the other Hedge podcast episodes, too, as they have some great content. A few I personally enjoyed included: episode 37 about DNS privacy; episode 31 about network operator groups (NOGs); and episode 30 with Ethan Banks from the Packet Pushers Network about why understanding the fundamentals of networking is so important.

Thank you to Russ, Eyvonne, and Tom for having me on the show!

Want to be more involved with the Open Standards Everywhere project?

Thank you for your help in getting open standards deployed everywhere!

Categories
IPv6 Open Standards Everywhere

On This 8th World IPv6 Launchiversary, Help Us Get More Websites Available Over IPv6

Eight years ago, on June 6, 2012, thousands of companies and organizations came together as part of World IPv6 Launch to permanently enable IPv6 for their websites and networks.

Today, we can see the success! If you visit the World IPv6 Launch measurements site, you can see some amazing numbers:

  • Reliance Jio’s network in India has over 90% IPv6 deployment!
  • Comcast’s huge network in the US is at 73% IPv6.
  • The combined US wireless carriers are over 85% IPv6.
  • Deutsche Telekom is over 68% IPv6.
  • Claro in Brazil is at 62% IPv6.

Another major source of info, Google’s IPv6 statistics, show that over 30% of all traffic to Googles sites globally is now over IPv6. If you look at Google’s per-country IPv6 adoption, some countries are seeing up around 50% of all traffic to Google’s properties going over IPv6.

This is all fantastic to see. But of course, we want more IPv6 deployment!

Specifically, we want more web sites and services available over IPv6. Increasing numbers of IPv6-only mobile networks are being deployed around the world. To ensure that people can reach websites that are still only available over IPv4, many IPv6-only networks use IPv6-to-IPv4 gateways. But we want everyone to be able to reach every website as fast as possible, without having to go through gateways, which can slow down access. So, we need more sites to have native IPv6 connections.

To do this, we need your help!

Is your site IPv6-ready? First, you can test your own web site(s) with the Internet.nl test site.

If Internet.nl says your site already supports IPv6, then congratulations! You are all set to have people connect over IPv6 to your site.

If your site does not support IPv6 yet, as part of our Open Standards Everywhere project in 2020, we are providing documentation to help people operating web servers make their sites available over IPv6.

We would like your feedback on the documents we have so far.

If you operate your own web server running on an actual server or a virtual machine, we have instructions for Apache or NGINX web servers.

If you are using a content delivery network (CDN) in front of your web server, the reality is that many CDNs already support IPv6 by default. We have a list of CDNs we know support IPv6. If your CDN is not on the list, please let us know! And if your CDN does not support IPv6, please let them know that these other CDNs do – and perhaps that you might consider switching. 😉

If you host your web site with a web hosting provider, we are looking to build a list of web hosting providers who do and do not support IPv6 for websites. We have an open issue on GitHub where we are seeking input.

In all of these cases, we would appreciate your feedback. If you use GitHub, you can open a new issue (or reply to a current one). Alternatively, you can send me email or contact me on Twitter.)

With your help, we can create even stronger documentation that can help even more people make their sites available over IPv6!

Want to be more involved with the Open Standards Everywhere project?

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Open Standards Everywhere

Introducing our Open Standards Everywhere project – securing web servers in 2020!

How do you make your web server as secure as possible – while using the latest open security standards? How do you ensure your web site is available to everyone  across all the global network of networks that is the Internet? 

For the Internet to remain open, globally-connected, trustworthy, and secure, we believe the networks and servers that make up the Internet need to be based on the latest and most secure standards coming out of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). 

Many web server administrators may want to support the latest standards and protocols, but they don’t know how, and don’t necessarily have the time to figure it out. It may be item #393 in a long list of to-dos. Web site administrators may not be aware of the latest open standards, or may not know why they should support these standards. 

As part of our Action Plan 2020, we are launching the Open Standards Everywhere project, with a focus in 2020 on the security and availability of web servers.

The project has four main components: 

  1. Build four reference servers – Using apache and nginx, with and without a CDN, and using Let’s Encrypt for TLS certificates, we will show how a server can be configured that uses the latest open standards and protocols.
  2. Create step-by-step documentation – We will document exactly what has to be done, and make that available to everyone. Anyone can easily understand what they need to do for many sites. The documentation will be available as text and video tutorials – and could take other forms.  We’ll also share information that helps explain why supporting these standards is important, including information to help you make the business case to others within your organization. As we do for other content, we’ll be publishing this documentation in English, French, and Spanish.
  3. Promote these resources and servers – Once the materials are online, we’ll promote the resources and work with people across the Internet to help increase the security of web servers. We’ll write articles, hold webinars, speak at events, and much more.
  4. Lead by example – While we are developing these resources, we’ll also be working to bring all of our corporate web servers into full support for these standards. We plan to reach out to our Chapters and Special Interest Groups to see how we can help them with their websites, too.

By the end of 2020, our goal is to see an increase in security and availability of web servers across the Internet through the usage of TLS, DNSSEC, IPv6, and HTTP/2. 

In 2021 and future years, we intend to expand the project to support other critical servers such as email servers, network time servers, DNS servers, and communications/messaging servers. Largely we will be watching the work of the IETF and seeing what new protocols come out that we can help promote to build a bigger, stronger Internet. 

We will also continue to monitor and evolve the project documentation around web servers. For example, as HTTP3/QUIC moves out into deployment, we will look to build that into this project. We may also explore creating some Docker images and other ways we may be able to help with deployment. 

I will be leading this Open Standards Everywhere project. Our team has already built the reference servers and we’ll soon be working on that documentation. But won’t be creating it all ourselves. We’ll also be referencing many of the excellent tutorials that are already out there, including some of our own we created as part of our previous Deploy360 Programme. We’re looking forward to collaborating with our community and others to make this documentation as strong and useful as possible. We’ve also already started working on our corporate websites. 

How You Can Get Involved! 

For open standards to truly be deployed everywhere, our small team can’t do it alone! WE NEED YOUR HELP! There are several ways you can be involved. 

1. Sign Up In the Internet Society Member Portal To Be Involved 

If you are an Internet Society Member (and if not, membership is free), you can log in to our member portal and follow the instructions on the bottom of this 2020 projects page to tell us HOW you would like to be involved with the project: 

  • Click on the button “Edit My Profile” on the home page (in the blue banner across the top).
  • Go to the “Preferences” tab.
  • Select the “Edit” button in the “Projects of Interest” section
  • Find the project (still under the internal name “Functioning Open Standards Server Ecosystem”) and indicate the ways in which you would like to help.
  • Click the “Save” button. The information will be saved to your Profile and presented on the “Preferences” screen.

Note that if you are a Chapter Leader or Organization Member, there are additional steps you can take listed on the bottom of the 2020 projects page to indicate the interest of your Chapter or Organization Member.

We plan to send out some initial information soon and provide a way for members to engage in more direct conversation with the project team. So please do sign up soon! 

2. Test your own website(s) for support 

Before we even get the project underway, you can test your web site(s) and see how well it does. If it needs work, and as we get more documentation out there, you can improve your server. Two of the test sites we are using are: 

  • Internet.nl – The website test covers IPv6, DNSSEC, TLS 1.3, and various TLS options.
  • https.pro – A test for HTTP/2 support.

 Once you have this baseline measurement, you’ll be able to see how your site(s) evolve over 2020. 

3. Star / watch our documentation repository on GitHub 

We’re going to try something a little different with this project. Rather than simply publishing our documents on our website, we are instead going to develop them in a GitHub repository, ose-documentation, and then link them into our website (more on that in a later post). We’re trying this out with the idea that:

  • other web administrators / operators may be able to easily find the documentation through GitHub
  • people can use the GitHub issue tracker to raise issues about the documentation
  • people can potentially contribute text (or other translations) as the project moves along

If you use GitHub, you are welcome to star or watch our ose-documentation repository so that you can stay up on what we are doing as the project moves forward. I’ll provide updates on this in future posts.

Deploying open standards everywhere…  

That’s our plan!  Over the next five years our goal is to use this Open Standards Everywhere project as a way to help people operating different kinds of servers to both see the value in new open Internet standards and also understand how to deploy those standards on their website(s).  In the end, we’ll all have a bigger, stronger, and more secure Internet. 

Please join us in this work!


Image credit : janicetea on Unsplash