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Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++ by Matt Messier, John Viega

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9.3. Using Session Caching to Make SSL Servers More Efficient

Problem

You have a client and server pair that speak SSL to each other. The same client often makes several connections to the same server in a short period of time. You need a way to speed up the process of the client’s reconnecting to the server without sacrificing security.

Solution

The terms SSL session and SSL connection are often confused or used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, two different things. An SSL session refers to the set of parameters and encryption keys created by performing an SSL handshake. An SSL connection is an active conversation between two peers that uses an SSL session. Normally, when an SSL connection is established, the handshake process negotiates the parameters that become a session. It is this negotiation that causes establishment of SSL connections to be such an expensive operation.

Luckily, it is possible to cache sessions. Once a client has connected to the server and successfully completed the normal handshake process, both the client and the server can save the session parameters so that the next time the client connects to the server, it can simply reuse the session, thus avoiding the overhead of negotiating new parameters and encryption keys.

Discussion

Session caching is normally not enabled by default, but enabling it is a relatively painless process. OpenSSL does most of the work for you, although you can override much of the default behavior (for example, you might build ...

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