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Guide to SSL Offloading – What Is It? How It Works & Benefits It Offers

Use SSL Offloading to Separate the Process of Encryption/Decryption for Reducing Latency on the Servers

These days most of the things are done online through websites. Online shopping, watching your favorite sports, dong any financial transactions, watching the news, and much more. If you’re a regular internet surfer who visits websites on a daily basis, then you might have noticed that suddenly the website slows down. Have you ever wondered what could be a cause?

If you think when any website gets more traffic than the usual one, then there’s a possibility to face this situation of the website is slowing down. Yes, you’re right, it’s the actual reason, but besides that SSL/TLS certificate installed onto your server can also be a culprit, which is mandatory to have on the website. But, there’s one way through which you can get a solution, and it’s through SSL offloading.

SSL Offloading – Here’s What It Is

SSL offloading is the process that is used for removing the SSL encryption from incoming traffic to reduce the processing burden of a web server: encrypting/decrypting traffic, which is sent through SSL. It doesn’t mean that it removes the installed SSL/TLS certificate, but it uses another separate device that is designed for the purpose of SSL termination or accelerating SSL.

In other words, SSL offloading helps the server by lessening a load of encryption and decryption with the help of SSL offloading device, placed between the browser (client) and the server. This SSL offloading device is also called the application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) processor, a load balancer, or a proxy server. In addition, these load balancer devices are designed for using the secure SSL/TLS protocol for performing SSL termination or SSL bridging for reducing these encryption and decryption load of the servers.

Once the load balancer is placed, it’ll receive encrypted traffic from the client, and then it’ll decrypt it and pass on that unencrypted data to the server. Sometimes, the load balancer is also responsible for inspecting HTTPS traffic for ensuring there’s no malware in that received data and then re-encrypt that same data and send it further to the server.

Here, this load balancer can be a special application, a hardware device, or even a firewall.

Some of the trusted SSL load balancer providers are:

Why SSL Offloading Is Needed?

Now the latest TLS 1.3 has come out. It has reduced the latency. But, earlier before TLS 1.2, SSL/TLS was used, which was adding latency to connection, leading to slowed down websites. A decade earlier, it was often said that the SSL/TLS certificate affects the loading speed of the website, which was true at that time.

In the past, SSL/TLS was considered a bit lengthy process mainly due to the several round trips of the SSL/TLS handshake process. Now, it has been reduced to a single round trip in this latest TLS 1.3. Again, with all the improvements, SSL/TLS can still add the latency resulting in slow down of the website if there’s a high volume of traffic.

How SSL Offloading Works?

As discussed above, SSL offloading is deployed through a separate device known as a load balancer. It’s kept between the browser and the server for handling encryption/decryption tasks. Here, the load balancer doesn’t need a new SSL/TLS certificate, but it makes use of the server’s existing SSL/TLS certificate and also its private key for completing the task.

There are two types of SSL offloading, namely:

  • SSL Termination
  • SSL Bridging

SSL Termination

SSL Termination is one of the types of SSL offloading, which mainly increases the decryption process speed. First, the client is connected to the load balancer through the secure and encrypted HTTPS connection. Then that load balancer gets connected to the server through the insecure HTTP protocol.
In SSL Termination, the connection of the client and the load balancer stays encrypted. Though, the transmission of data between the load balancer and the server stays unencrypted. If you think whether it sacrifices the security, then no need to worry, as the HTTP connection takes place on the internal network, which is protected by firewalls, and the client has a secure connection with the SSL terminator, which acts as a pass-through.

Advantage of SSL Termination

  • The server doesn’t require encrypting and decrypting all the data coming from the client-side, which helps in reducing the workload and increasing the loading speed.
  • Some of the websites where SSL termination can be considered are like blogs, information related websites like Wikipedia, YouTube. One of those who don’t deal with any sensitive data of the user.

SSL Bridging

SSL Bridging is quite similar to that SSL Termination, but the difference sets in when it sends the traffic while requesting through HTTP, and then re-encrypts all the information and send it to the application server.

The purpose of SSL bridging is to verify data for ensuring that it’s free from malicious malware. In this, the process includes decryption of incoming data, then inspecting it for any malicious spyware, viruses, and commonly seen web application attacks like DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), cross-site forgery, SQL injections and more. And then again encrypting it and sending it forward to the webserver.


Compared to SSL Termination, this SSL Bridging may come out costly because of its infrastructure investment as well as processing power. However, SSL offloading can lighten the workload of the servers. SSL bridging is useful for the websites that collect sensitive information of the user like credit card details, health data, data concerning tax, and more.

Advantage of SSL Bridging

  • Compared to SSL Termination, SSL Bridging is safer as the data remains encrypted throughout the transmission process, which means from the client to the load balancer and from the load balancer to the server, it stays encrypted.


In today’s informative world, being online or connecting to the internet is quite a norm and visiting the website, which loads slowly won’t be able to keep up with today’s generation, nor will users appreciate it. However, SSL offloading does offer an advantage due to which there won’t be any vulnerability towards cyber-attacks, and it will even increase the loading speed. Go through this article to find out regarding the same.

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