Step 2: The server acknowledges the client-to-server communication session and requests a server-to-client communication session.

The TCP server must acknowledge the receipt of the SYN segment from the client to establish the session from the client to the server. To do so, the server sends a segment back to the client with the acknowledgement (ACK) flag set indicating that the acknowledgment number is significant. With this flag set in the segment, the client recognizes this as an acknowledgement that the server received the SYN from the TCP client.

The value of the acknowledgment number field is equal to the ISN plus 1. This establishes a session from the client to the server. The ACK flag remains set for the balance of the session. Recall that the conversation between the client and the server is actually two one-way sessions: one from the client to the server, and the other from the server to the client. In this second step of the three-way handshake, the server must initiate the response to the client. To start this session, the server uses the SYN flag in the same way that the client did. It sets the SYN control flag in the header to establish a session from the server to the client. The SYN flag indicates that the initial value of the sequence number field is in the header. This value is used to track the flow of data in this session from the server back to the client.

As shown in the figure, the protocol analyzer output shows that the ACK and SYN control flags are set and the relative sequence and acknowledgement numbers are displayed.