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I understand that thru SSL, the browser gets public key of the secured website and thru public key encryption rsa algorithm, these 2 establish session key and then continue communication thru some symmetric algorithm, because symmetric key encryption/decryption is faster. Which symmetric key algorithm does SSL use? DES? AES? or something else?


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are several, including those you mentioned - RC4 is common, AES is also available.

See CipherSuite on Wikipedia and also Comparison of TLS implementations. If you open up the security view for a page in your browser, it will show what encryption is being used for that page.

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Read the notes at the bottom of the wikipedia article for symmetric_key_algorithm:

It gives you a nice break down of the ciphers and how common they are.

My original answer (below) dealt with creating a private key.
OpenSSL uses three different cipher options to encrypt a private key:

  1. DES
  2. triple DES
  3. IDEA

Read more about this at the openssl website:

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OP's question is talking about the encryption after the session is set up, rather than encrypting the keys themselves. – Spectre May 22 '11 at 15:07
Oops. Got caught up in the section of the question about the rsa algorithm. – Chris Ting May 22 '11 at 15:21

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