Learn about the latest cipher suites for TLS 1.3 and how to download them
Cipher Suite Free Download: What You Need to Know
If you have a website or use online services, you probably know that encryption is essential for securing your data and privacy. Encryption is achieved by using protocols such as SSL/TLS and HTTPS, which rely on a set of algorithms called cipher suites. But what are cipher suites and how do you choose the best one for your needs? And where can you find free tools to download and use cipher suites? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.
What is a cipher suite and why is it important?
A cipher suite is a named combination of four cryptographic algorithms that help secure a network connection. These algorithms are:
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A key exchange algorithm, which determines how the client and the server agree on a secret key to encrypt and decrypt the data.
An authentication or digital signature algorithm, which verifies the identity of the server and optionally the client.
A bulk encryption algorithm, which encrypts the data being transmitted.
A message authentication code (MAC) algorithm, which ensures the integrity of the data and prevents tampering.
Cipher suites are used in SSL/TLS protocols, which are the standard methods for securing network connections over the internet. SSL/TLS protocols are used by HTTPS, which is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol that web browsers use to communicate with web servers. HTTPS connections are indicated by a padlock icon in the address bar of your browser.
Cipher suites determine the level of security and compatibility of a connection. A secure cipher suite should provide strong encryption, authentication, and integrity, as well as forward secrecy, which means that even if the secret key is compromised, past communications cannot be decrypted. A compatible cipher suite should be supported by both the client and the server, as well as by any intermediate devices such as firewalls or proxies.
How to choose a cipher suite for your server or browser?
Choosing a cipher suite can be a complex task, as there are hundreds of different cipher suites available, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Here are some general guidelines to help you make an informed decision:
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Consider the version of TLS protocol and the supported cipher suites
The version of TLS protocol that you use affects the choice of cipher suites. TLS is an evolving protocol that has gone through several versions, each with different features and security improvements. The latest version is TLS 1.3, which was published in 2018 and offers better performance and security than previous versions. However, not all servers and browsers support TLS 1.3 yet, so you may need to use an older version such as TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.1.
Each version of TLS supports a different set of cipher suites. For example, TLS 1.3 supports only five mandatory cipher suites, all based on AES-GCM encryption and SHA-256 MAC algorithms. TLS 1.2 supports more than 300 cipher suites, including some based on AES-CBC encryption and SHA-1 MAC algorithms. TLS 1.1 supports even more cipher suites, including some based on RC4 encryption and MD5 MAC algorithms.
You should always use the highest version of TLS that is supported by both your server and your browser, as well as by any intermediate devices. You should also use only the cipher suites that are compatible with that version of TLS. You can use a tool such as to test the TLS version and cipher suite support of your server and browser.
Choose a cipher suite that offers strong encryption, authentication, and integrity
The encryption, authentication, and integrity algorithms of a cipher suite determine how secure it is. You should choose a cipher suite that offers strong algorithms that are widely accepted and trusted by the security community. Here are some examples of strong algorithms:
AES-GCM or ChaCha20-Poly1305 for encryption. These are symmetric encryption algorithms that use a secret key to encrypt and decrypt the data. They also provide authenticated encryption, which means they combine encryption and integrity in one step. AES-GCM is faster on hardware that supports AES instructions, while ChaCha20-Poly1305 is faster on software-based platforms.
ECDHE or DHE for key exchange. These are asymmetric encryption algorithms that use public and private keys to agree on a secret key. They also provide forward secrecy, which means they generate a new secret key for each session and do not store it anywhere. ECDHE is based on elliptic curve cryptography, which offers higher security with smaller keys, while DHE is based on modular arithmetic.
ECDSA or RSA for authentication or digital signature. These are asymmetric encryption algorithms that use public and private keys to verify the identity of the server and optionally the client. ECDSA is based on elliptic curve cryptography, while RSA is based on factoring large numbers.
SHA-256 or SHA-384 for MAC. These are hash functions that produce a fixed-length output from any input. They are used to ensure the integrity of the data and prevent tampering. SHA-256 and SHA-384 are part of the SHA-2 family of hash functions, which are considered secure and widely used.
You should avoid cipher suites that offer weak or deprecated algorithms, such as RC4, DES, 3DES, MD5, or SHA-1. These algorithms have been found to have security flaws or vulnerabilities that make them susceptible to attacks. You should also avoid cipher suites that do not provide forward secrecy, such as those based on RSA key exchange.
How to download and use cipher suite tools?
If you want to download and use free tools to manage and test your cipher suite configuration, here are some options you can try:
IIS Crypto: A free tool for Windows Server administrators
If you run a web server on Windows Server, you can use to configure your TLS settings and cipher suites. IIS Crypto is a free tool that allows you to enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes, and key exchange algorithms with a simple graphical interface. It also lets you reorder your cipher suites according to your preference or use predefined templates based on best practices. IIS Crypto applies the changes to the Windows registry and requires a reboot to take effect.
DigiCert TLS/SSL Certificate Tools and Support: A suite of free tools for certificate management and troubleshooting
If you need to manage or troubleshoot your SSL/TLS certificates, you can use