Encrypting data can introduce latency to connections because of the amount of computer processing that it requires. That’s where TLS/SSL offloading comes into play. This method can improve your page loading speeds and user experience. TLS/SSL offloading can also be used to introduce additional security checks for malware.
TLS/SSL offloading definition
TLS/SSL offloading, often misunderstood, involves the redirection of encrypted traffic away from the web server to alleviate its processing load. Contrary to popular belief, when establishing a connection between a user's computer and a web server, the encrypted information can be routed to a separate machine or even a dedicated processing device within the same server. By employing TLS/SSL offloading, the server can offload the burden of decrypting and encrypting traffic transmitted via SSL, resulting in improved performance and resource utilization.
How does TLS/SSL offloading work?
Offloading works by taking on the processing load of encryption on a separate device or machine than is being used for the application processing. To configure this process, organizations route TLS/SSL requests to an application delivery control that intercepts the TLS/SSL traffic, decrypts the traffic, and then forwards the traffic to a web server. To configure end-to-end encryption, you must import a valid certificate and key and bind them to the web server.
Types of TLS/SSL offloading
There are two different ways to accomplish TLS/SSL offloading.
TLS/SSL termination is the simpler approach of the two. In this process, encrypted traffic is intercepted before it hits your servers and decrypted on a dedicated TLS/SSL termination device instead of the application server. Then the decrypted data is forwarded on to the application server.
TLS/SSL bridging adds another layer of security by performing extra checks for malware. Incoming data is decrypted, inspected for malicious code, then is re-encrypted and sent on to the web server. This form of TLS/SSL offloading is meant to increase security rather than reduce processing activities on the application server.
Benefits of TLS/SSL offloading
Organizations that handle a lot of encrypted data would benefit from TLS/SSL offloading so application servers can focus on their primary tasks rather than encryption. Reduced TLS/SSL workload can lead to:
- Faster pagespeeds
- Quicker response from the application server
- Enhanced stability of the website
Depending on what load balancer you’re using, TLS/SSL offloading can also help with HTTPS inspection, reverse-proxying, cookie persistence, and traffic regulation. Attackers can hide in encrypted traffic, and the ability to inspect encrypted HTTPS traffic could save your organization from severe attacks.
Keep your applications running smoothly
Make sure your applications are running securely and efficiently by implementing TLS/SSL offloading. Offloading only works with valid certificates, so certificate lifecycle management is another crucial component of a healthy network. Make sure to keep track of all TLS/SSL certificates in use at your organization and when they expire so they don’t cause a certificate-related outage.
Automate the certificate management process with machine identity management. Download our Machine Identity Management for dummies eBook to learn more about securing your applications and preventing certificate-related outages.