What Is SSL Offloading?

By Usha Dadighat

Secure socket layer (SSL) certificates provide authentication between a server and a client computer in a Web application. Companies or businesses with a dedicated SSL certificate must host that certificate on a Web server. Heavy use of the certificate can put a strain on the machine and slow down the application.


SSL offloading takes all the processing of SSL encryption and decryption off the main Web server and moves it to a separate device designed specifically for the task. This allows the performance of the main Web server to increase and it handles the SSL certificate efficiently.


SSL offloading increases the effectiveness of the security offered by the certificates because the designated device can devote more processing time to warding off attacks. It increases the Website and application speed and prevents companies from needing to add more Web servers to keep up with the demands of a frequently used SSL certificate.


SSL termination performs decryption on the designated device, then sends the unencrypted data to the main Web server. This data passes through extra security measures such as an intrusion detection system and a firewall to protect the transmission of unencrypted data. SSL bridging decrypts and checks the data for malicious code before it reaches the server. It then re-encrypts it and processes it again after the server redirects it to the designated device. The extra step slows down the process.