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What is SSL - Secure Sockets Layer

A network protocol which provides security to web-based network traffic. A connection is established with the server which sends a digital certificate to the browser/user system to verify its authenticity. The client then generates a random session encryption key which it sends to the server. The latter uses its own private key to decrypt the client's session key. This results in both parties having a shared secret key to protect encrypted information. The SSL also allows each party to check that data has not been modified in transit (i.e. check its integrity) by using a hash function.

SSL is used to secure web server accesses, but it should be noted that it only protects information in transit; once decrypted and processed or stored by the web server (e.g. in a database), the information is no longer protected.

Crown Copyright. Material taken from the DTI - Department for Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.

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Term created / updated 2007-03-15 16:23:40

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