Transport-layer security is provided by the transport mechanisms used to transmit information over the wire between clients and providers; thus, transport-layer security relies on secure HTTP transport (HTTPS) using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Transport security is a point-to-point security mechanism that can be used for authentication, message integrity, and confidentiality. When running over an SSL-protected session, the server and client can authenticate each other and negotiate an encryption algorithm and cryptographic keys before the application protocol transmits or receives its first byte of data. Security is active from the time the data leaves the client until it arrives at its destination, or vice versa, even across intermediaries. The problem is that the data is not protected once it gets to the destination. One solution is to encrypt the message before sending.
Transport-layer security is performed in a series of phases, as follows.
The client and server agree on an appropriate algorithm.
A key is exchanged using public-key encryption and certificate-based authentication.
A symmetric cipher is used during the information exchange.
Digital certificates are necessary when running HTTPS using SSL. The HTTPS service of most web servers will not run unless a digital certificate has been installed. Digital certificates have already been created for the GlassFish Server.
The advantages of using transport-layer security include the following.
It is relatively simple, well-understood, standard technology.
It applies to both a message body and its attachments.
The disadvantages of using transport-layer security include the following.
It is tightly coupled with the transport-layer protocol.
It represents an all-or-nothing approach to security. This implies that the security mechanism is unaware of message contents, so that you cannot selectively apply security to portions of the message as you can with message-layer security.
Protection is transient. The message is protected only while in transit. Protection is removed automatically by the endpoint when it receives the message.
It is not an end-to-end solution, simply point-to-point.
For more information on transport-layer security, see Establishing a Secure Connection Using SSL.