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VeriSign lands two more trusted commerce companies

By Paul Roberts, IDG News Service
November 18, 2002 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Digital security company VeriSign Inc. announced Monday that it has signed up managed Web hosting companies Affinity Internet Inc. and Interland Inc. to its Trusted Commerce initiative, extending VeriSign's Shared Hosting Security Services (SHSS) and Payment Services to small businesses using either of those two providers to host commercial Web sites.

Interland will be offering VeriSign services as part of its blueHalo shared hosting platform, according to a statement released by VeriSign.

It is not clear how Affinity will be packaging the new services, though they may also be rolled into that company's standard e-commerce package, according to Ben Golub, senior vice president of VeriSign's Web trust and payments group.

The Trusted Commerce initiative is VeriSign's effort to extend the use of its encryption and payment security technology to the more than two million small and medium-size businesses that are offering Internet-based transactions but are not direct certificate owners. Currently VeriSign's certificates have been issued to about 400,000 sites worldwide, according to Golub.

As part of the program, VeriSign works through Web hosting companies and Internet service providers (ISPs) to authenticate small companies that are doing business on-line, just as larger and more established vendors are vetted by VeriSign before being issued a digital certificate.

Previously, VeriSign only authenticated companies that owned its certificates, for example the managed Web hosting company or ISP. Digital certificates were then issued to those companies.

Small businesses that were customers of the Web hosting company or ISP shared the company's VeriSign certificate to secure transactions made through their own hosted site, but VeriSign did not authenticate those businesses individually, issue certificates to those companies, or allow them to display the VeriSign Secure Site Seal on their Web page.

"It was encryption without authentication," said Golub. "All the consumer knew was that the ISP was legitimate."

In other words, while sensitive information was secured by VeriSign's technology during the transaction, there was no way to determine whether the business that the customer was patronizing was legitimate.

"It's like putting your money in an armored car, but having no idea where the car is going," said Golub.

As part of the new Trusted Commerce initiative, small merchants will still use the digital certificate belonging to their hosting company, but VeriSign will check to make sure that each company using that certificate is a valid commercial entity.

Among other things, VeriSign will check to make sure online merchants are registered with the secretary of state where they are headquartered, that they have applied for and received a valid business license in that state, and that the physical location

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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