Developers
July 21, 2020

Google Cloud Rolls Out TLS 1.3

Google Cloud has increased security, updating to TLS 1.3.

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is one of the most important protocols, in terms of protecting the internet. Everything from email to e-commerce relies on TLS to keep communications and transactions safe.

History of TLS

TLS was originally released in 1999 as an upgrade to the older Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). SSL was originally been created by Netscape as a way for websites to secure the connection with client web browsers. By the time TLS came along, SSL was already on version 3.0, although each version suffered from security flaws of varying degrees.

TLS was designed to improve on SSL and, while relatively similar, was not interchangeable with the older protocol. If a client did not support TLS, the protocol was designed so that it could downgrade to SSL if needed, although doing so would provide less security.

How TLS Works

TLS relies on a handshake system to negotiate the connection between the client and the server. In the course of the handshake, the client and server agree on a cipher protocol, verify the server’s identity and then encrypt the connection.

The TLS connection can either begin on a port reserved for encrypted communication, such as port 443, or it can begin on an unencrypted port and then transition over. This is a popular option with email clients that begin the server negotiation unencrypted, then use the STARTTLS command to upgrade to a secure connection.

Version 1.3

TLS 1.3 was defined in August 2018 in RFC 8446 and is a major improvement over 1.2. According to RFC 8446, just a few of the major improvements include:

The list of supported symmetric encryption algorithms has been pruned of all algorithms that are considered legacy. Those that remain are all Authenticated Encryption with Associated Data (AEAD) algorithms. The cipher suite concept has been changed to separate the authentication and key exchange mechanisms from the record protection algorithm (including secret key length) and a hash to be used with both the key derivation function and handshake message authentication code (MAC).

A zero round-trip time (0-RTT) mode was added, saving a round trip at connection setup for some application data, at the cost of certain security properties.

Static RSA and Diffie-Hellman cipher suites have been removed; all public-key based key exchange mechanisms now provide forward secrecy.

All handshake messages after the ServerHello are now encrypted. The newly introduced EncryptedExtensions message allows various extensions previously sent in the clear in the ServerHello to also enjoy confidentiality protection.

Google Cloud’s Rollout

As with any major upgrade, updating an encryption algorithm can be fraught with headaches. For something as large as Google Cloud, unforeseen issues can be devastating.

As a result, Google rolled TLS 1.3 out slowly, providing plenty of time to ensure there would be no negative impact on users.

“To gain confidence that we could do this safely and without negatively impacting end users, we previously enabled TLS 1.3 across Search, Gmail, YouTube and numerous other Google services,” write Matt Silverlock, CDN Product Manager and Gabriel Redner, Cloud LB Software Engineer. “We also monitored the feedback we received when we rolled out TLS 1.3 in Chrome. This prior experience showed that we could safely enable TLS 1.3 in Google Cloud by default, without requiring customers to update their configurations manually.”

One of the biggest advantages Google sees with version 1.3 is improved security and performance. As Silverlock and Redner point out, often one comes at the expense of the other. But with TLS 1.3, there are significant advantages on both fronts. This is especially true for congested networks, as well as high-latency connections and low-powered devices, such as cellphones and tablets.

The pair make it clear that TLS 1.3 is just the beginning, with further improvements expected down the road.

“TLS 1.3 has quickly taken responsibility for securing large swaths of Google Cloud customers’ internet traffic, and we expect that proportion to grow as more clients gain support for it,” continues Silverlock and Redner. “We’re (already!) working on the next set of modern protocols to bring to our Google Cloud customers—including TCP BBRv2, as well as IETF QUIC and HTTP/3, which are close to being finalized. We’re also planning to support TLS 1.3 0-RTT (though customers will need to update their applications to benefit from it) and certificate compression.”

TLS 1.3: An Important Upgrade

In an age where an unprecedented number of people are working from home, using their own devices and relying on cloud computing, strong security is more important than ever. At the same time, more people than ever are working on cellphones and tablets, devices that may not have the resources as a full-fledged workstation.

Google Cloud’s move to TLS 1.3 is an important step that will provide increased performance and security to its users.

TagsGCPTransport Layer Security
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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DevelopersJuly 21, 2020
Google Cloud Rolls Out TLS 1.3
Google Cloud has increased security, updating to TLS 1.3.

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is one of the most important protocols, in terms of protecting the internet. Everything from email to e-commerce relies on TLS to keep communications and transactions safe.

History of TLS

TLS was originally released in 1999 as an upgrade to the older Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). SSL was originally been created by Netscape as a way for websites to secure the connection with client web browsers. By the time TLS came along, SSL was already on version 3.0, although each version suffered from security flaws of varying degrees.

TLS was designed to improve on SSL and, while relatively similar, was not interchangeable with the older protocol. If a client did not support TLS, the protocol was designed so that it could downgrade to SSL if needed, although doing so would provide less security.

How TLS Works

TLS relies on a handshake system to negotiate the connection between the client and the server. In the course of the handshake, the client and server agree on a cipher protocol, verify the server’s identity and then encrypt the connection.

The TLS connection can either begin on a port reserved for encrypted communication, such as port 443, or it can begin on an unencrypted port and then transition over. This is a popular option with email clients that begin the server negotiation unencrypted, then use the STARTTLS command to upgrade to a secure connection.

Version 1.3

TLS 1.3 was defined in August 2018 in RFC 8446 and is a major improvement over 1.2. According to RFC 8446, just a few of the major improvements include:

The list of supported symmetric encryption algorithms has been pruned of all algorithms that are considered legacy. Those that remain are all Authenticated Encryption with Associated Data (AEAD) algorithms. The cipher suite concept has been changed to separate the authentication and key exchange mechanisms from the record protection algorithm (including secret key length) and a hash to be used with both the key derivation function and handshake message authentication code (MAC).

A zero round-trip time (0-RTT) mode was added, saving a round trip at connection setup for some application data, at the cost of certain security properties.

Static RSA and Diffie-Hellman cipher suites have been removed; all public-key based key exchange mechanisms now provide forward secrecy.

All handshake messages after the ServerHello are now encrypted. The newly introduced EncryptedExtensions message allows various extensions previously sent in the clear in the ServerHello to also enjoy confidentiality protection.

Google Cloud’s Rollout

As with any major upgrade, updating an encryption algorithm can be fraught with headaches. For something as large as Google Cloud, unforeseen issues can be devastating.

As a result, Google rolled TLS 1.3 out slowly, providing plenty of time to ensure there would be no negative impact on users.

“To gain confidence that we could do this safely and without negatively impacting end users, we previously enabled TLS 1.3 across Search, Gmail, YouTube and numerous other Google services,” write Matt Silverlock, CDN Product Manager and Gabriel Redner, Cloud LB Software Engineer. “We also monitored the feedback we received when we rolled out TLS 1.3 in Chrome. This prior experience showed that we could safely enable TLS 1.3 in Google Cloud by default, without requiring customers to update their configurations manually.”

One of the biggest advantages Google sees with version 1.3 is improved security and performance. As Silverlock and Redner point out, often one comes at the expense of the other. But with TLS 1.3, there are significant advantages on both fronts. This is especially true for congested networks, as well as high-latency connections and low-powered devices, such as cellphones and tablets.

The pair make it clear that TLS 1.3 is just the beginning, with further improvements expected down the road.

“TLS 1.3 has quickly taken responsibility for securing large swaths of Google Cloud customers’ internet traffic, and we expect that proportion to grow as more clients gain support for it,” continues Silverlock and Redner. “We’re (already!) working on the next set of modern protocols to bring to our Google Cloud customers—including TCP BBRv2, as well as IETF QUIC and HTTP/3, which are close to being finalized. We’re also planning to support TLS 1.3 0-RTT (though customers will need to update their applications to benefit from it) and certificate compression.”

TLS 1.3: An Important Upgrade

In an age where an unprecedented number of people are working from home, using their own devices and relying on cloud computing, strong security is more important than ever. At the same time, more people than ever are working on cellphones and tablets, devices that may not have the resources as a full-fledged workstation.

Google Cloud’s move to TLS 1.3 is an important step that will provide increased performance and security to its users.

GCP
Transport Layer Security
About the author
Matt Milano -Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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