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SSL - Transport Layer Security

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), are cryptographic protocols which provide secure communications on the Internet for such things as web browsing, e-mail, Internet faxing, and other data transfers.

There are slight differences between SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0, but the protocol remains substantially the same. The term "TLS" as used here applies to both protocols unless clarified by context.

The TLS protocol(s) allow client/server applications to communicate in a way designed to prevent eavesdropping, tampering, and message forgery. TLS provides endpoint authentication and communications privacy over the Internet using cryptography.

Typically, only the server is authenticated (i.e., its identity is ensured) while the client remains unauthenticated; this means that the end user (be that a person, or an application such as a web browser), can be sure of whom they are "talking" to.

The next level of security - both ends of the "conversation" being sure of who they are "talking" to - is known as mutual authentication. Mutual authentication requires public key infrastructure (PKI) deployment to clients.

For the rest of the Wikipedia entry on the above term, go here.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.