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What is Transport Layer Security?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Emails are widely used within most business today as a means of transmitting sensitive information between people. Many businesses require special sensitivity and security around email messages. There are three primary methods for securing emails. These include the standards of Transport security layer (TLS), pretty good protection (PGP) and S/MIME™. Transport layer security (TLS) is a security that is designed as a special encryption tunnel between a sending and receiving email server. This type of encryption requires special protocols and connection points between computers.

Today’s email applications typically consist of many interconnected mail servers. These mail servers are connected to each other via telecommunication devices. Within the transport layer security standard an encrypted telecommunication channel is used as the method of ensuring all transmitted data is not decipherable.

Data encryption is the process of converting strings of text into undecipherable information. This process requires hashing algorithms that are designed to mathematically scramble information. These functions are typically based on the data encryption standards (DES) or advanced data encryption standards (AES). The standards of AES are considered the latest standard and meet the tighter security requirements of modern applications.

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The email encryption processes has been evolving over the last few decades. Transport layer security was first introduced in 1999 with version 1.0. It is available in multiple versions with the current version supporting the advanced encryption standards (AES). The latest version provides a higher level of security because the encryption algorithm is more complex.

Public-key security is a feature that requires the creation of an encryption key to scramble a message. Transport layer security uses the RSA public key encryption algorithm. The cryptographic function was created in 1978 by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adelman. This earlier version of RSA only supported the standards of DES. The current version of RSA supports the more complex standards of AES.

Transport layer security is similar to secure socket layer (SSL), which is the primary encryption security that is used on the Internet. With TLS, a secure encrypted connection is created between two computers. This telecommunication device encrypts all data that is transmitted over the network devices. This effectively becomes an encrypted tunnel with all data transmitted in a scrambled format.

TSL provides an encrypted tunnel that uses the RSA encryption process. This tunneling provides a tighter security layer because the receiving email server has an encryption certificate from the sending email server. Any attempted eavesdropping would be blocked by the encrypted message and telecommunication device.

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