Future versions of HTTP won’t be using TCP: How does it affect the internet?

HTTP, abbreviated from HyperText Transfer Protocol is going to lay off TCP as its foundation for QUIC.

Such abbreviations overwhelm us easily. They, however, pose as cardinal spines without which the internet wouldn’t have encountered Twitter, Facebook; heck, even Google. But HTTP resorting to QUIC is de facto a huge step for the internet.

And here’s how it would affect your browsing, video, entertainment, and stalking habits. But first, I feel a revision on the knowledge of HTTP and TCP, and how they currently work in cohesion, is incumbent.

Protocols are what the world of internet revolves around. They, at its core, are a set of rules that ordain interactions between two points in a network. That being said, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is a set of rules that govern how different pages in a network link to each other. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), on the other hand, is a set of rules that overlook the systematic delivery of data over an IP (Internet Protocol) network.

QUIC sticks on to the principles like reliability and organization of TCP but enhances it with a significantly low number of round trips.

ArsTechnica, while describing TCP, says that it helps with the transfer of data in a “reliable, ordered, and error-checked” manner. This, however, is about to change since Google and the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) believe that TCP could be replaced with a new protocol named QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections). But why the need to replace TCP in the first place, you may ask?

TCP, being instrumental in running the internet, is a comprehensive framework for most protocols, including HTTP. This comprehensiveness, however, isn’t specifically adjusted for HTTP, which undermines HTTP’s ability to reach greater speeds.

Digging even deeper into this, TCP requires multiple round trips to ensure a single connection, which takes monotonously longer. Having multiple round trips for fetching an SSL certificate for a URL is a perfect example of how it works. This, indubitably, is a setback, especially considering how speed-dependent the future of the internet is going to be.

QUIC, au contraire, sticks on to the principles like reliability and organization of TCP but enhances it with a significantly low number of round trips. ArsTechnica paints the picture in this way:

“For example, if a client is reconnecting to a server, the client can send important encryption data with the very first packet, enabling the server to resurrect the old connection, using the same encryption as previously negotiated, without requiring any additional round trips.”

It is built on UDP (User Datagram Protocol) which is extremely unreliable, unordered, and mismanaged as opposed to TCP. Still, due to its simplicity, new protocols are built on top of UDP. Google—the developer behind QUIC—makes sure it the inefficiencies of UDP does not reflect on QUIC but, in fact, enhance it.

Unlike TCP, QUIC is specifically designed for HTTP.

Following the IETF’s acceptance of Google’s proposal to replace TCP, it is now set that QUIC will replace TCP as HTTP’s base framework. It will be named as HTTP/3 and it will always use QUIC as its network protocol.

But how does it change things for the internet in the future?

The internet, today, is a haven where around half of the world’s population endures. It is much more than a virtual version of the real world where you tend to achieve a sense of realization, reassurance, and awareness. It is a tool which helps you satisfy your convenience and make it easier for you to interact with the world.

This interaction, however, is by no means a simple one, or say a two-step process. To make it work requires complex tools and frameworks that work in adherence with each other and form a hyperlink.

If you take a look at early trends in the usage of the internet, you would notice it was extremely simple and, on a household scale, prominent only on computers. People used it just for email. The real spike in the usage of the internet was noticed when it started commercializing.

 

People felt the convenience of “stay-home” shopping futuristic to its greatest extent, which boosted the notoriety of the internet to sky-high limits. Those times, however, did not demand blazing speed network connections.

Today is definitely different. Entire corporations are based on the use of HTTP. The world could never live without it anymore. You won’t be able to access Google without it, shop for collectibles online, tweet your thoughts, or simply text peers without it. But at the same time, there is a notion of staleness coupled with the risk of compromised security.

As much as the world requires the internet to suffice its idiosyncratic needs, it has sensed it also requires robust security to keep the product of those needs, and everything involved with it safe and sound. But the older version of HTTP—the version we use today—is not as secure as we intend it to be. I’ve discussed this before. HTTP, which is based on a foundation of TCP requires a couple of round trips before it fetches an SSL certificate—a certificate that validates encryption. This leaves room for potential vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities, that cyberpunks can exploit in some, or the other way, if not easily.

QUIC will, according to Google, fetch the SSL certificate in the first round itself. This will fill all the gaps and leave no room, and time, for hackers to gain momentum into malicious activities. It will change the way corporations, organizations, and even end-users interact with websites and web pages on the internet. There will be two major advancements.

First, the speed with which web pages load will increase exponentially. So tasks like shopping on Amazon will take lesser time. This will also generalize the internet into our lives to an even greater extent. The fastest web pages today make us realize the existence of the internet since it gives us the time to wonder the greatness of it while a web page loads. In the near future, with QUIC in the scene, web pages will be so fast the realization of the existence of the internet will fade with every website accessed.

Second, the security will elevate into a much tougher, unbreakable virtual wall. But more than that, the sense of security in our minds will magnify in the future, disencumbering our thoughts about security and privacy in the online world today.

Now we know that HTTP/3 with QUIC as a framework is coming. But it isn’t clear when. As always, we will be the ones relaying that information to you.

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Courtesy: 9to5Mac
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