I know that TLS protocol is used to authenticate two persons and when a secure channel is established we can perform a key exchange.

My question is if TLS can be used to establish a secure channel between more than two persons. If yes how?

  • TLS only supports two parties. But of course multiple parties can open a secure connection to the same trusted server. Dec 8, 2013 at 13:33
  • It's not even clear what security properties you want a multi-party communication to have. Consider a multi-party chat between Alice, Bob and Carol. Should Carol be able to send a message in which she claims to be Alice? If you answer no, that will weaken deniability. Dec 8, 2013 at 13:35
  • Actually I am trying to design a new security protocol. The attribute which I will need to demonstrate include (but are not limited to) authentication besides the others. Initially I am trying to go for key exchange. Then onwards... Also does TLS need an intermediate server like a governing authority. Thanks for your help. Dec 8, 2013 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


TLS requires an out of band mechanism from which to bootstrap trust between the communicating parties. Using an external certificate authority is one approach.

an alternate approach is PGP's web of trust, where individuals you trust sign the public keys of individuals you don't yet trust. Here, Alice might connect to Bob. Alice trusts Bob. Bob connects to Carol, whom Bob trusts. Bob tells Alice Carol's public key and address, and tells Carol Alice's key and address . Carol and Alice can now connect to each other, based on trust in Bob.

Alternately, Alice and Carol can exchange keys and addresses in person, such as on business cards. They can then contact each other, believing that they are talking to the person they met in person.

Or you can have a central server where each user has registered a public key. Any other user can connect to the server and ask that server to forward traffic to the recipient as known by such server.

Edited to add: please don't design your own protocol. See the following link for a discussion of why not: Are there any holes in this security design?

  • The problem is that suppose the server is offline then the multiple person scenario would not work at all. I "need" to design a new protocol as it is part of my research project. Dec 9, 2013 at 12:00
  • Each of the variants has its strengths and weaknesses. If you era writing the protocol for school, it's one if the very few exceptions to the rule - and will hopefully teach you why the rule exists :-)
    – atk
    Dec 9, 2013 at 13:42

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