Google is speeding up SSL

Bruce Morton

Everyone loves SSL, also known as Transport Layer Security (TLS), right? Well, the good people at Google have decided to make it even better by speeding it up with a feature called TLS False Start.

Setting up an SSL session requires an initial handshake, which is a series of back-and-forth messages between the Web server and browser. The idea behind False Start is to save time by allowing the browser to start sending data before the handshake is complete. This can save 70 to 150ms, depending on the relative global position between browser and server.

False Start is easy to implement as it only requires changes to the browser. According to Google software engineer Mike Belshe, Chrome is the only browser implementing False Start at this time.

Google has yet another trick up their sleeve called TLS Snap Start. Snap Start could eliminate the handshake latency altogether. This feature is more difficult to deploy as it requires changes by to both Web browser and Web servers.

I applaud Google’s efforts to increase SSL performance and improve our secure browsing experience.

Bruce Morton
Bruce Morton
Director, Certificate Technology & Standards

Bruce Morton has worked in the public key infrastructure and digital certificate industry for more than 15 years and has focused on SSL and other publicly trusted certificates since 2005. He has been an active member of the CA/Browser Forum that released guidelines for extended validation (EV) certificates and Baseline Requirements for SSL certificates. Bruce oversees the governance and compliance of Entrust’s publicly trusted PKI.


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