Understanding and Leveraging SSL-TLS for Secure Communications describes the nuts of bolts of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols – today's most popular security protocols for secure Web-based communications. The eBook includes an explanation of the cryptographic, certificate and PKI building blocks of SSL/TLS. It describes the applications and application-level protocols that can take advantage of SSL/TLS and also explains how to set these applications up for secure SSL/TLS-based communications. The applications covered in the eBook are HTTP, LDAP, NNTP and SMTP. The eBook's primary audience is technical planners, architects and consultants. IT and security planners and decision managers can certainly get value out of the introductory chapter.

Understanding and Leveraging SSL-TLS for Secure Communications describes the nuts of bolts of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols – today's most popular security protocols for secure Web-based communications. The eBook includes an explanation of the cryptographic, certificate and PKI building blocks of SSL/TLS. It describes the applications and application-level protocols that can take advantage of SSL/TLS and also explains how to set these applications up for secure SSL/TLS-based communications. The applications covered in the eBook are HTTP, LDAP, NNTP and SMTP. The ebook's primary audience is technical planners, architects and consultants. IT and security planners and decision managers can certainly get value out of the introductory chapter.

This eBook is made up of the following four chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction to Certificates and SSL/TLS
Chapter 1 provides a general introduction to the Secure Sockets Layer / Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) protocols and the security building blocks these protocols are rooted on. The chapter discusses the cryptographic roots of the protocols (symmetric, asymmetric ciphers, hashing) and related concepts such as certificates and public key infrastructure.

Chapter 2: Leveraging SSL/TLS for Secure Web Communications (HTTPs)
The second chapter explains how to enable your Web servers and Web clients (browsers) for secure SSL/TLS-based communications. The process of enabling a Web server for SSL/TLS is explained using the example of Microsoft's IIS Web server. Client configuration is explained in the context of common browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Netscape Navigator, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. This chapter also compares SSL/TLS to other Web authentication protocols (basic authentication, digest authentication)

Chapter 3: Advanced SSL/TLS for secure Web communications (HTTPs)
Chapter 3 focuses on advanced SSL/TLS topics that architects and technologists may encounter when dealing with and configuring the SSL/TLS protocols for secure Web communications. These include the SSL/TLS certificate validation process, optimizing SSL/TLS server-side performance and SSL/TLS and load-balancing. The chapter concludes with a set of best practices for setting up SSL/TLS for secure Web communications.

Chapter 4: Leveraging SSL for secure LDAP, NNTP and SMTP (LDAPs, NNTPs and SMTPs)
The final chapter focuses on how to enable and configure SSL/TLS for secure LDAP, NTTP and SMTP communications. The process of enabling and configuring SSL/TLS is illustrated in Microsoft Active Directory (AD), IIS and Exchange environments. This chapter also provides a set of SSL/TLS best practices for each of the above applications.

-- Jan De Clercq, a member of HP's Security Office, focusing on identity management and security in Microsoft products.