The Evolving Architecture of the Web and Its Impact on Security, Privacy, and Latency

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:00 pm1:30 pm

Nick Sullivan, Head of Cryptography, Cloudflare


The encrypted web is built on top of a few fundamental protocols: HTTP, TLS, and DNS. These protocols were written with some fundamental assumptions about the architecture of the internet in mind, like the idea that different IP addresses correspond to separate physical machines. However, some of these assumptions are changing, and changing quickly. The popularity of technologies like IP anycast, Layer 4 load balancing, and the consolidation of massive portions of the web behind a small set of reverse proxy services mean that the architecture of the web today is very different than what is taught in computer networking classes. In this talk, I will examine some of the impacts of these changes and how internet standards such as HTTP/2 are being adapted to take advantage of the new architecture. I will also debate the tradeoffs between the complexity added by these changes and the privacy and latency benefits they provide to users of the web.

Nick Sullivan, Head of Cryptography, Cloudflare

Nick Sullivan is a leading cryptography and security technologist. As Head of Cryptography at Cloudflare, a top Internet performance and security company, he is responsible for overseeing all cryptographic products and strategy for the company. He was instrumental in building Cloudflare’s security engineering team and led major projects including Keyless SSL and TLS 1.3. Prior to joining Cloudflare, he was a digital rights management pioneer, helping build and secure Apple’s multi-billion dollar iTunes store. He holds an MSc in Cryptography, is the author of more than a dozen computer security patents, and regularly speaks at major security conferences.

@inproceedings {208157,
author = {Nick Sullivan},
title = {The Evolving Architecture of the Web and Its Impact on Security, Privacy, and Latency},
booktitle = {Enigma 2018 (Enigma 2018)},
year = {2018},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

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