3 min read

Facebook open-sourced a new library Fizz (a TLS 1.3 library) for securing websites against cyberattacks and improving its focus on safe data traversal across the internet. TLS  1.3 is now taking good shape, as Facebook has claimed that it’s secured and running more than 50% of its web traffic via TLS1.3 and Fizz.
Since the Facebook infrastructure is so widespread, a protocol like the TLS is of much importance. Solving the SSL issues of both latency and data exposure, the TLS protocol also uses a stronger encryption for messages to maintain the privacy of certificates and redesigns the way secret keys are derived while using a zero round-trip connection setup to accelerate requests. Thus, TLS overcomes the shortcomings of the previously used SSL protocol.

What problem does Fizz solve for Facebook?

Assisting the Internet Engineering Task Force’s efforts to improve the TLS protocol, Fizz will now play its own part. One of the major issues faced by the engineers at Facebook was writing data to huge chunks of memory. This led to an increase in resource overhead and reduced the servers’ speed. To combat this issue, Fizz will divide the data into smaller chunks and then move it into memory while encrypting it in place. This simple technique called as “Scatter/gather I/O” processes data much more efficiently.

 

Scatter/Gather I/O
Source: code.fb.com

The next big thing that Fizz aims to do is replace the previously deployed Zero protocol with TLS 1.3. The zero protocol enabled Facebook to experiment with the 0-RTT secure connections. The 0-RTT reduced the latency of requests and the overhead needed to deploy TLS. Fizz has now taken over the zero protocol by providing zero copy encryption and decryption, tight integration with other parts of the infrastructure while reducing usage of memory and CPU. This improves user experience, particularly on app startup when there are no existing connections to reuse. All this is done at the same speed as the zero protocol but provides a 10-percent higher throughput.

In today’s world, servers are scattered everywhere! Keeping in mind that these servers usually want to be able to make calls to services in other locations in the middle of a handshake, asynchronous IO becomes very important.  Fizz, therefore, provides a simple async application programming interface (API).  Any callback from Fizz can return an asynchronous response without blocking the service from processing other handshakes. It is also very easy to add new asynchronous callbacks to Fizz for other use cases.

Fizz also provides developers with easy-to-use API’s to send “early data” immediately after the TCP connection is established. Early data reduces the latency of requests. Fizz is comprised of secure abstractions. This helps catch bugs during compile time rather than at runtime, thereby preventing mistakes.

This open source provision from Facebook aims to be better than its SSL predecessor at preventing attacks. It would be interesting to see how the crowd takes advantage of the  library! Head over to the official FB documentation to know more about this robust library.

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