Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is a protocol suite for securing Internet Protocol (IP) communications by authenticating and encrypting each IP packet of a communication session. IPsec also includes protocols for establishing mutual authentication between agents at the beginning of the session and negotiation of cryptographic keys to be used during the session.

IPsec is an end-to-end security scheme operating in the Internet Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite. It can be used in protecting data flows between a pair of hosts (host-to-host), between a pair of security gateways (network-to-network), or between a security gateway and a host (network-to-host)


Some other Internet security systems in widespread use, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Shell (SSH), operate in the upper layers of the TCP/IP model. Hence, IPsec protects any application traffic across an IP network. Applications do not need to be specifically designed to use IPsec. The use of TLS/SSL, on the other hand, must be designed into an application to protect the application protocols.

IPsec is a successor of the ISO standard Network Layer Security Protocol (NLSP). NLSP was based on the SP3 protocol that was published by NIST, but designed by the Secure Data Network System project of the National Security Agency (NSA).

IPsec is officially specified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in a series of Request for Comments documents addressing various components and extensions. It specifies the spelling of the protocol name to be IPsec

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