Looking at the Security Landscape
Despite its limitations, OpenSSL is a production-ready API you can use right now in secure network programming. It's easy to use and provides state-of-the-art ciphers (even some of the once-patented ones) for which the industry is now charging thousands of dollars.
Beginning with an understanding of basic network programming, you can use tools like this to get the most out of your servers and clients. If you want to learn more about socket programming and SSL, pick up Linux Socket Programming (Sams Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0-672-31935-7). You can get source code for this article from the Linux Socket web site.