I've heard people beginning to debate the usefulness of SSL. Why do some people think that it is no longer useful, and what's in store for the future of SSL?

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I haven't heard these debates in security circles, and I seriously doubt that Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is going to fade away anytime soon. Only a serious flaw or other watershed event could prevent its use. SSL is simply far too entrenched in Web browsers, SSH tools, VPNs and other technologies. It provides practical, easy-to-use encryption that's widely available in almost every security solution on the market today.

In fact, if we see any change in the near future, I think it will be an upsurge in SSL utilization. As more applications handle sensitive data, we're likely to see additional applications move to SSL-based technology. For example, SSL VPNs are becoming more popular than their IPsec-based cousins.

As you may be aware, there's another competitor of sorts on the scene. Transport Layer Security (TLS) is an open alternative to the Netscape-developed SSL, but it's really not gaining significant market share. TLS and SSL are substantially similar, and TLS is even capable of reverting to SSL communication when necessary. I suspect we'll continue to see TLS available in commercial products (especially those from Netscape!), but it's not likely to surpass SSL anytime soon.

More information:

  • Can a Web client that does not support SSL still connect to a secure server? Mike Chapple explains.
  • Learn how to verify whether Secure SSL is protecting sensitive Web data.
  • This was first published in July 2007

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