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Implementing SSL/TLS Using Cryptography and PKI by Joshua Davies

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CHAPTER 6

A Usable, Secure Communications Protocol: Client-Side TLS

Armed with symmetric encryption to protect sensitive data from eavesdroppers, public-key encryption to exchange keys securely over an insecure medium, message authentication to ensure message integrity, and certificates and their digital signatures to establish trust, it's possible to create a secure protocol that operates over an insecure line without any prior interaction between parties. This is actually pretty amazing when you think about it. You can assume that anybody who's interested in snooping on your traffic has full and complete access to it. Nevertheless, it's possible to securely send data such that only the intended recipient can read it, and be assured, within reason, that you're communicating with the intended recipient and not an impostor.

Even with all the pieces in place, though, it's possible to get this subtly wrong. This is why the TLS protocol was developed — even if you use the strongest cryptography, key exchange, MAC and signature algorithms available, you can still leave yourself vulnerable by improper use of random numbers, improper seeding of random number generation, improper verification of parameters, and a lot of other, subtle, easy-to-overlook flaws. TLS was designed as a standard for secure communications. You must, of course, use strong, secure cryptographic algorithms; the best way to ensure this is to use standard algorithms that were designed and have been thoroughly reviewed ...

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