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3.7.1 Separate ports

Traditionally SSL was used in application protocols by assigning a new port number for the secure services. By doing this two separate ports were assigned, one for the non-secure sessions, and one for the secure sessions. This method ensures that if a user requests a secure session then the client will attempt to connect to the secure port and fail otherwise. The only possible attack with this method is to perform a denial of service attack. The most famous example of this method is “HTTP over TLS” or HTTPS protocol [RFC2818].

Despite its wide use, this method has several issues. This approach starts the TLS Handshake procedure just after the client connects on the —so called— secure port. That way the TLS protocol does not know anything about the client, and popular methods like the host advertising in HTTP do not work6. There is no way for the client to say “I connected to YYY server” before the Handshake starts, so the server cannot possibly know which certificate to use.

Other than that it requires two separate ports to run a single service, which is unnecessary complication. Due to the fact that there is a limitation on the available privileged ports, this approach was soon deprecated in favor of upward negotiation.



See also the Server Name Indication extension on serverind.