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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.
- Key generation.
- Entity authentication.
- Key agreement.
- Symmetric encryption of transferred messages using the agreed generated key.
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.