Security requirements have become a common thing in internet connections. Application and website servers have continually employed HTTPS to host secure transactions and allow secure sender-receiver communications. But do you know how the SSL is impacting your website performance?
This is true. Let’s see how.
How Is The SSL Working?
HTTPS connections are based on the HTTP transfer protocol over SSL/TLS certificates. The SSL certificates ensure information integrity, confidentiality, and authenticity by applying symmetric and asymmetric encryption algorithms.
With the surge in cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, it makes sense that website owners should only operate via the HTTPS protocol. However, a pervasive fallacy suggests that SSL certificates pose performance-related challenges and that they are slow.
This might have been the case decades ago. Today, all google searches are served over the HTTPS protocol. According to Google’s Transparency Report, 93.2% of browsing time on Google Chrome web browser is spent on HTTPS websites.
HTTPS does not have any performance issues. Instead, TLS/SSL certificates bring a lot of performance enhancement capabilities to websites. This article will look at the impact of SSL/TLS certificates on website performance and how HTTPS provides secure communication.
What Is The Difference Between Secure Socket Layer (SSL) And Transport Layer Security Certificates (TLS)?
Before we go into any further details of SSL performance impact, it is prudent that you understand the differences between SSL and TLS. The most interesting thing is that there is no difference between the two.
Transport Layer Security was only presented as an alternate term for Secure Socket Layer 3.0. Its primary mission was to solve the insecurity challenges posed by the preceding SSL certificate versions.
However, people in cyber security stuck to using the term SSL certificate, and they have continued to do so to date for better website performance.
How Does HTTPS Provide Secure Communications?
Security is the main reason why the SSL certificates were developed. It works by laying an encryption layer on top of the HTTP transfer protocol.
This yields the HTTPS protocol, a secure transfer protocol, because of its ability to encrypt data as it travels between website servers and browsers. The SSL certificate has two primary objectives:
- First, the certificate verifies that a web visitor is communicating directly with the rightful server.
- Secondly, it helps with data and communication encryption, ensuring data confidentiality and integrity as it travels between two endpoints, such as website performance, server, and website visitors.
Session Resumption And Its Impact On Website Performance
One of the most critical performance features of a TLS certificate is session resumption. Session resumption boosts SSL and website performance by remembering vital details of a negotiation session that was previously a success.
This makes it easy to evade the most computationally rigorous parts of the SSL session key negotiation process. There are two vital elements of session resumption which you should know.
First, we have the Session IDs in which the application servers and the clients will store their secret states on their own. Then we have the session tickets in which the client stores the encrypted server’s state.
Session tickets play a very crucial role in the performance of websites. Session tickets were introduced to deal with the technical hitches that were brought about by bulky server caches.
The server will use an encryption key to scramble session information and then store the information with the client. As such, whenever the client connects to the server, all the servers will need to do is decrypt and reuse the session information.
Session resumption keys are majorly beneficial to the servers’ ends because they allow for little computations, lower congestions, and few round trips.
The Impact Of SSL/TLS Certificates On Load Speeds
One of the most significant benefits of using TLS certificates is that it works with HTTP/2, whose primary focus is improving web performance.
Installing an SSL certificate on your website performance ensures that your website leverages HTTP/2, which has a great potential of speeding up your website. HTTP/2 brought in three notable performance enhancements, as explained below.
1. Multiplexing For Fast Data Transfers
HTTP websites have a great performance problem in the sense that the websites usually must wait for every request and response to be processed, one at a time.
It means after a browser sends a response, it will have to wait for the server’s response before making any other request. This typically has an undesirable effect on website loading speeds, and it consumes a lot of server resources.
HTTP/2 comes in to solve the speed challenge posed by HTTP. It allows a web browser and a server to make requests and receive manifold web elements using a single connection. This has a significant impact on website performance and speeds since it reduces latency.
Users will not have to waste time waiting for messages to be sent forwards and backward before they finally receive the web page they are trying to access.
2. Server Push
Server Push is also another significant benefit of using HTTP/2. As the name suggests, server push allows a compliant server to push additional resources to an HTTP/2-compliant browser, even before the user requests them.
The additional website performance and resources refer to the information a user has not requested yet, but the server anticipates that the user might request. With server push, HTTP/2 significantly reduces the durations a server takes to load, thereby reducing latency.
3. Header Compressions
HTTP/2 plays a very noble role in reducing header sizes. Essentially, headers are used to inform servers of the information a user is looking for and describe the resources being transferred.
An HTTP session can carry headers up to 800 bytes in a single transfer, which could even be more if cookies apply. On the other hand, HTTP/2 reduces the size of headers, thus improving page load speeds.
Having an SSL certificate can significantly impact website performance. Most web hosting providers have now implemented HTTP/2. But It is always important to counter-check with your hosting company to ensure that the HTTP/2 feature is available on the packages.
Which SSL Certificate For Improving Website Performance?
There has always been a question of which type of SSL certificate works best to enhance website performance. It is important to note that all types of SSL certificates operate similarly. Therefore, website performance should not be a criterion for choosing the type of SSL certificate for a website. Different types of SSL certificates are there to fulfill the security requirements of a website.
There are many reputed certificate authorities available like RapidSSL, GeoTrust, Comodo, Thawte SSL certs, etc. If you look at types of SSL certificates then, it includes mainly single domain, multi-domain, wildcard SSL, etc. The question here is which one will suit your website?
The answer is it depends upon the site’s requirement. For example, you can go with a multi-domain SSL like Comodo Positive SSL Multi Domain to secure multiple domains.
Besides, above discussed types of SSL certificates can be categorized under three types of validation methods.
1. Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates
Extended Validation SSL certificates are the most expensive and highly trusted SSL certificates on the market, and large eCommerce stores and multinational agencies usually use them.
To acquire an Extended Validation SSL certificate, you must submit all relevant business details and information materials to improve website performance. Usually, the vetting process is intensive, explaining why the certificates take long before they are issued.
2. Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate
Organization Validation SSL certificates are the middle-level type of SSL certificate. Your company or organization will undergo a less-rigorous vetting procedure for a certificate authority to issue an OV SSL certificate.
OV SSL certificates can take up to three business days before they are issued. They display the same visual cues as those of Domain Validated SSL certificates.
Moreover, they provide a mechanism for your audience to check your website performance and business information by going through your business details in your certificate details.
3. Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate
This is the rudimentary SSL certificate type. It represents the base-level SSL certificate. DV SSL certificates are a great choice for websites that only need to encrypt data and nothing else.
They are known to be cheap SSL certificates, and they can be issued within minutes. The explanation for quick issuance is that the validation process is simple and does not involve a lot of paperwork. All you need to do to own the DV SSL certificate is proof that you own the domain.
4. Classification According To Domain Levels
SSL certificates can also be classified according to the domain level. Here, we have single Domain, Multi-Domain, wildcard, and Multi-Domain Wildcard SSL certificates.
Wildcard SSL certificates secure the primary domain and all the first-level subdomains under it. It is a perfect choice when your website has numerous subdomains, such as an eCommerce website.
If you are looking for a cost-effective option for securing multiple level-one subdomains under the main domain, you may consider investing in a cheap wildcard SSL certificate for improvising your website performance.
SSL certificate has had a great impact in enhancing website performances. You have no choice but to acquire one for your website. By installing an SSL certificate, you will enjoy fast load speeds, maximum encryption of your sensitive data, SEO advantages, trust enhancements, and many other website performance benefits.