After TLS handshake both server and client agreed about session key to use as symmetric key. So server must store several session keys which each one belongs to a specific client.

How server determines for a received request which session key must be used(i.e session key of which client)? (Is this true: Client appends its session id in each request(somewhere like header?) and server has a map between session id and session key.)

How long a server uses a session key? Is it bad practice to use a session key for long time? Why they change session key while it transferred in a secure(i.e encrypted with public key) manner?

1 Answer 1


Normally, once the TLS handshake is complete, the client and server can exchange encrypted traffic on the same connection without having to communicate the session id. This is because the server associates the SSL context information (including the session key) with the TCP socket on its end. You can see this in this simplified example of a TCP server: https://wiki.openssl.org/index.php/Simple_TLS_Server

However, there are two scenarios where the session id is communicated after the initial handshake - session resumption and session renegotiation.

Session resumption allows the same TLS session (containing all the parameters agreed in the handshake) on a new TCP connection after closing the original one. This means the connection could time out, and your browser would detect this case and resume the TLS session on a new connection by sending the session id in a new Client Hello. More details on session resumption here: http://vincent.bernat.im/en/blog/2011-ssl-session-reuse-rfc5077.html

Session renegotiation is used to change the parameters to be different from the initial handshake, but on the same TCP connection.

As you mention, the storage of a session cache on the server compromises security. An attacker could gain access to the session cache and then decrypt traffic. More details on this here - https://blog.compass-security.com/2017/06/about-tls-perfect-forward-secrecy-and-session-resumption/

  • Thanks for your detailed answer. So for each request(post, get,put,delete,...) it must do a handshake? I previously assumed since handshake is a cpu intensive operation it should do a handshake and use its result for multiple requests...
    – Bonje Fir
    Sep 30, 2018 at 5:30
  • 1
    @BonjeFir: you are mixing several things together. TLS is a protection for the TCP connection. get, put ... are actions at the application protocol level. Depending on the application protocol it might be possible to have several actions within a single TCP connection. Specifically with HTTP/1 (when using keep-alive) or with HTTP/2 a TCP connection will be created, upgraded to TLS and then several HTTP requests and responses will be done using the same TCP connection (and the same TLS session) - i.e. one TLS handshake and multiple HTTP requests. Sep 30, 2018 at 6:02
  • @SteffenUllrich Thanks, very helpful clarification.
    – Bonje Fir
    Sep 30, 2018 at 6:28

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