SSL is not a magic bullet

    Date28 Jan 2001
    CategoryCryptography
    3185
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Unfortunately, SSL has a checkered past and present. Like other security problems involving encryption packages, the issues lie not so much in SSL as in the software used to implement and support it. Instead of guaranteeing security, SSL may . . . Unfortunately, SSL has a checkered past and present. Like other security problems involving encryption packages, the issues lie not so much in SSL as in the software used to implement and support it. Instead of guaranteeing security, SSL may provide a false sense of security through its occasional failings.

    In his new book, Secrets and Lies, Bruce Schneier tells how he once felt that cryptography was the magic bullet that could solve all security problems. With hindsight and more experience, Schneier now writes that security is a process, not a product, and that cryptographic solutions, such as SSL, do not exist in a vacuum. In this column, I examine how SSL works, what it can do, and how the products and applications that use SSL have failed, resulting in updates to Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer and IIS this year.

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