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HTTP: The Definitive Guide

Cover of HTTP: The Definitive Guide by David Gourley... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
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A Real HTTPS Client

SSL is a complicated binary protocol. Unless you are a crypto expert, you shouldn't send raw SSL traffic directly. Thankfully, several commercial and open source libraries exist to make it easier to program SSL clients and servers.


OpenSSL is the most popular open source implementation of SSL and TLS. The OpenSSL Project is a collaborative volunteer effort to develop a robust, commercial-grade, full-featured toolkit implementing the SSL and TLS protocols, as well as a full-strength, general-purpose cryptography library. You can get information about OpenSSL, and download the software, from

You might also hear of SSLeay (pronounced S-S-L-e-a-y). OpenSSL is the successor to the SSLeay library, and it has a very similar interface. SSLeay was originally developed by Eric A. Young (the "eay" of SSLeay).

A Simple HTTPS Client

In this section, we'll use the OpenSSL package to write an extremely primitive HTTPS client. This client establishes an SSL connection with a server, prints out some identification information from the site server, sends an HTTP GET request across the secure channel, receives an HTTP response, and prints the response.

The C program shown below is an OpenSSL implementation of the trivial HTTPS client. To keep the program simple, error-handling and certificate-processing logic has not been included.

Because error handling has been removed from this example program, you should use it only for explanatory value. The ...

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