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SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an encryption technology most commonly used by web browsers to ensure that the information transmitted between the browser and the web server is private and unaltered. Active SSL connections are most frequently indicated by  a change in the host URL from HTTP://somehost.com to HTTPS://somehost.com, and in most modern browsers the inclusion of a padlock icon or other indicator in the address bar to further signal the secure connection.

SSL encrypts the communication at the application layer so that any information, leaving the browser during the period the SSL link is established, is routed through a secure channel. Thus if the end user is reading their email through a web-based client secured with SSL the only way to eavesdrop on their communication between the email server and the user reading the email on their screen would be to have access (either physically or via some sort of remote software control) to the screen itself–the transmission between the server and the browser client would remain secure.

The SSL protocol was originally developed by Netscape and released to the public in 1995. Since then it has undergone multiple revisions and been incorporated into other communication tools besides web browsers (such as Voice-Over IP telephones, instant messaging applications, and file transfer applications).

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