Secure Sockets Layer

What Does Secure Sockets Layer Mean?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard protocol used for the secure transmission of documents over a network. Developed by Netscape, SSL technology creates a secure link between a Web server and browser to ensure private and integral data transmission. SSL uses Transport Control Protocol (TCP) for communication.

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Techopedia Explains Secure Sockets Layer

In SSL, the word socket refers to the mechanism of transferring data between a client and server over a network.

When using SSL for secure Internet transactions, a Web server needs an SSL certificate to establish a secure SSL connection. SSL encrypts network connection segments above the transport layer, which is a network connection component above the program layer.

SSL follows an asymmetric cryptographic mechanism, in which a Web browser creates a public key and a private (secret) key. The public key is placed in a data file known as a certificate signing request (CSR). The private key is issued to the recipient only.

The objectives of SSL are:

  • Data integrity: Data is protected from tampering.
  • Data privacy: Data privacy is ensured through a series of protocols, including the SSL Record Protocol, SSL Handshake Protocol, SSL Change CipherSpec Protocol and SSL Alert Protocol.
  • Client-server authentication: The SSL protocol uses standard cryptographic techniques to authenticate the client and server.

SSL is the predecessor of Transport Layer Security (TLS), which is a cryptographic protocol for secure Internet data transmission.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.