August 10, 2010

Encryption Protocols: Is PayPal secure?

    Is PayPal secure? Yes. PayPal uses SSL technology to keep your information safe. In addition, when you send a payment using PayPal, the recipient won't receive sensitive financial information like your credit card or bank account number. This way, you don't have to worry about paying people you don't know. Encryption Protocols- Security A security protocol (cryptographic protocol or encryption protocol) is an abstract or concrete protocol that performs a security-related function and applies cryptographic methods. A protocol describes how the algorithms should be used. A sufficiently detailed protocol includes details about data structures and representations, at which point it can be used to implement multiple, interoperable versions of a program. Cryptographic protocols are widely used for secure application-level data transport. A cryptographic protocol usually incorporates at least some of these aspects:

  • Key agreement or establishment

  • Entity authentication

  • Symmetric encryption and message authentication material construction

  • Secured application-level data transport

  • Non-repudiation methods
For example, Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol that is used to secure web (HTTP) connections. It has an entity authentication mechanism, based on the X.509 system; a key setup phase, where a symmetric encryption key is formed by employing public-key cryptography; and an application-level data transport function. These three aspects have important interconnections. Standard TLS does not have non-repudiation support.

There are other types of cryptographic protocols as well, and even the term itself has various different readings; Cryptographic application protocols often use one or more underlying key agreement methods, which are also sometimes themselves referred to as "cryptographic protocols". For instance, TLS employs what is known as the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which although it is only a part of TLS per se, Diffie-Hellman may be seen as a complete cryptographic protocol in itself for other applications.

Cryptographic protocols can sometimes be verified formally on an abstract level.

Bit Size
In cryptography, key size or key length is the size (usually measured in bits or bytes) of the key used in a cryptographic algorithm (such as a cipher). An algorithm's key length is distinct from its cryptographic security, which is a logarithmic measure of the fastest known computational attack on the algorithm, also measured in bits. The security of an algorithm cannot exceed its key length (since any algorithm can be cracked by brute force), but it can be smaller. For example, Triple DES has a key size of 168 bits but provides at most 112 bits of security, since an attack of complexity 2112 is known. This property of Triple DES is not a weakness provided 112 bits of security is sufficient for an application. Most symmetric-key algorithms in common use are designed to have security equal to their key length. No asymmetric-key algorithms with this property are known; elliptic curve cryptography comes the closest with an effective security of roughly half its key length.

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