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TLS stands for Transport Layer Security.
It is a protocol which followed on from the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
TLS provides secure communications on the Internet for data transfer.
There are some differences between SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0, but the protocol remains very similar.
TLS resides on the Application Layer of the OSI model.
The TLS Handshake Protocol allows server and client to authenticate each other and negotiate an encryption algorithm and cryptographic keys before data is exchanged – i.e. essentially “on demand”.
Typically, only the server is authenticated and its identity is ensured while the client remains unauthenticated.
The mutual authentication of servers requires public key deployment to clients.
When a server and client communicate, TLS protocol ensures that no third party may intercept, inject or otherwise tamper with any message, or forge messages.
TLS Protocol Version 1.0 was defined in RFC document RFC 2246.
Also see: SSH, SSL, HTTPS and SFTP.