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What is OpenSSL?

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Quick Answer

OpenSSL is an implementation of security protocols known as Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security. It is developed by a team of volunteers to be an open-source, commercial-grade project. It provides a free general purpose cryptography library for commercial and non-commercial uses. The primary use of OpenSSL is to create secure encryption between a server and a client.

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OpenSSL is based on an earlier project called SSLeay, which was originally developed by Eric Young and Tim Hudson. Two variants of OpenSSL, called LibreSSL and BoringSSL, were created in order to work on fixing vulnerabilities discovered in the OpenSSL code.

Encryption is used to protect sensitive data, such as personal and financial information, from being used by anyone besides the intended recipients. Encryption works by scrambling the data with an algorithm key that both client and server use to encode and decode the information. SSL certificates use three separate keys, one for both the client and the server, and one that encodes the entire session between the two separately. Sites that collect credit card information are required by the Payment Card Industry to have an SSL certificate or set of encryption keys.

Open-source software like OpenSSL is intended to be freely used, modified, shared and distributed by anyone.

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