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Is SSL no longer useful?

Has the time finally come for one of today's most commonly used protocols? In this SearchSecurity.com Q&A, network security expert Mike Chapple explains why SSL isn't going anywhere.

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?

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.

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This was last published in July 2007

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