TLS/SSL vs IPsec: The Trade-offs


A look into the trade-offs between TLS/SSL and IPsec in terms of their requirements, authentication methodsoverall performance (speed and strength)service transparencyoperational complexity, and other characteristics. 

Authentication Methods:

TLS/SSL begins with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) handshake process to agree on which protocol to use. Once a secure connection is created the next step is to exchange certificates and keys as needed. 

IPsec is a network-level protocol that requires setup before on both servers and the client. 

Overall Performance (speed & strength):

As far as performance, TLS/SSL is faster, however IPsec setup in Transport Mode is getting close in speed. When looking at the strength of security, IPsec setup in Tunnel mode will be more secure due to encrypting more pieces of the packet. 


IPsec is fully transparent where TLS/SSL is not, but the complexity to setup/use IPsec is greater. Additionally, TLS/SSL is not a permanent connection, you can terminate a session as easy as exiting an application. IPsec is more of a permanent connection with sometimes requires specialized hardware and software.

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