Cryptographic protocol

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A cryptographic protocol (also known as encryption protocol or security protocol) is an abstract or an existing protocol that performs a security-related function and applies cryptographic methods.

A protocol describes how the cryptographic algorithms should be used to secure information. The description of a protocol must include details about all data structures and representations, and all details about how to utilize the protocol by programs.

Cryptographic protocols are widely used for secure application-level data transport, in order to secure transferred messages. A cryptographic protocol usually has at least some of these features:

The term cryptographic protocol is used in different ways. For example, cryptographic application protocols often use one or more underlying Key-agreement protocols which are also sometimes themselves referred to as "cryptographic protocols", like the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which uses what is known as the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, Diffie-Hellman may be seen as a complete cryptographic protocol in itself for other applications.

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