Evaluating a TLS / SSL Decryption Solution

Evaluating a TLS / SSL Decryption Solution

Encryption is essential for data privacy—but it can also create security blind spots. The problem is simple: using Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption can keep computer hackers from snooping into your traffic, but it also has the same effect on your security devices, i.e., it stops them from weeding out malicious traffic hiding within your encrypted web traffic. This makes it all too easy for hackers to conceal exploits such malware delivery or the extraction or exfiltration of data within encrypted traffic. As a result, the same TLS and SSL encryption that you rely on to protect privacy can also leave your business vulnerable to damaging data breaches, ransomware attacks, cryptojacking, and other threats. In fact, as many as 46 percent of malware attacks are using encryption as part of their delivery and communication mechanisms in 2021.

An intensifying threat landscape is driving security investment to dizzying levels—$211 billion by 2024. But unless companies close the encryption blind spot, that investment will be unable to ensure comprehensive protection for digital assets.

The solution to the TLS / SSL blind spot is straightforward in principle. All you need to do is deploy a platform to decrypt inbound and outbound TLS / SSL traffic to allow inspection by all your security products that analyze network traffic, including firewalls, intrusion prevent systems (IPS), data loss prevention (DLP), forensics, advanced threat prevention (ATP), and more. Once this inspection is complete, traffic can be re-encrypted before continuing on its way.

However, the way TLS / SSL decryption is implemented will make all the difference in its ability to keep up with escalating TLS / SSL bandwidth requirements, meet diverse deployment demands, and enable regulatory compliance.

Meeting Current and Future TLS / SSL Performance Demands

As the use of TLS / SSL encryption increases, the volume of encrypted traffic is rising faster than overall IP traffic growth. It’s important to make sure the platform can keep pace with both current internet bandwidth and future SSL throughput requirements, allowing extra headroom to ensure that the platform can handle traffic peaks. With more sites using computationally intensive 2048-bit and 4096-bit SSL keys along with complex Elliptic-Curve Cryptography (ECC), you should also test the solution’s decryption speeds with these approaches.

Satisfying Compliance Requirements

Privacy and regulatory compliance can pose roadblocks to SSL inspection, forcing organizations to walk a fine line between protecting intellectual property from malware attacks and violating the privacy rights of their employees and customers. To meet the requirements of regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), organizations have to ensure that confidential banking or healthcare records will not be decrypted or stored in log management systems. You should also be able to selectively bypass sensitive traffic, such as traffic to banking and healthcare sites, to avoid inadvertently decrypting regulated customer or patient data. Audit trails and detailed logs are essential so that security incidents can be traced.

Maximizing the Uptime and Overall Capacity of Your Security Infrastructure

If your network and security infrastructure fail, your business is not just at the risk of losing revenue but it’s also more susceptible to computer hackers and malware attacks. A TLS / SSL decryption can help lower that risk by maximizing the availability and overall capacity of your security devices. For example, analyzing network traffic for hackers’ threats can be a resource-intensive task; firewalls often struggle to keep up with network demands when multiple security features like IPS, URL filtering, and virus inspection are enabled. Your TLS / SSL solution can alleviate the strain by offloading TLS / SSL processing from these devices to maximize their uptime and performance. Load balancing functionality can help you scale security deployments by routing traffic for optimal efficiency, and by detecting and routing around failed security devices.

For a detailed discussion of essential selection criteria for a TLS / SSL decryption, read the eBook, The Ultimate Guide to TLS / SSL Decryption: Six Features to Consider When Evaluating TLS / SSL Decryption Solutions.

“As a result, the same TLS / SSL encryption that you rely on to protect privacy can also leave your business vulnerable to computer hackers and malware attacks, damaging data breaches, ransomware attacks, cryptojacking, and other threats..”


Babur Khan
September 29, 2021

About Babur Khan

Babur Nawaz Khan is a Technical Marketing Engineer at A10 Networks. He primarily focuses on A10's Enterprise Security and DDoS Protection solutions. Prior to this, he was a member of A10's Corporate Systems Engineering team, focusing on Application Delivery Controllers. Babur holds a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. READ MORE