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EV-SSL Gains Adoption, May Boost Web Sales

In tough economic times, everyone is looking for a way to increase their business.

For online businesses, one possible route could be by way of upgrading their SSL certificates to EV-SSL (Extended Validation), according to VeriSign. The company is reporting growing sales of its EV-SSL certificates as well as increased sales for its customers that use EV-SSL on their own sites.

A basic SSL certificate on its own doesn't necessarily verify the identity or authenticity of a Web site. An EV-SSL certificate involves a validation to ensure that the domain owner and site is legitimate.

Tim Callan, vice president of product marketing at VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN), said that it was difficult to say whether the economy having an impact on the sale of EV-SSL certificates at his company.

"EV-SSL continues to grow quickly as a category," Callan told InternetNews.com. "It may be that it would have grown quicker if the economy had not experience its slowdown, but either way, adoption continues unabated."

In March, VeriSign reported that it had sold 8,000 EV-SSL certificates in total over the last two years. Now three months later, VeriSign is reporting a 25 percent gain with 10,000 EV-SSL certificates sold in total.

Callan said VeriSign has found that businesses are looking harder for efficiency than ever.

"The significant measured increases in online transactions that EV-SSL brings about are appealing to many businesses who say, 'This improvement is exactly what I need right now,'" Callan said.

VeriSign also said a number of examples show how EV-SSL helped their customers to make more money.

In one case, VeriSign reported that one month after CarInsurance.com added EV-SSL, sign-ups grew by 18 percent. For CanadaDrugs.com, VeriSign reported a 27 percent increase in revenue per sale once EV-SSL became added to its site.

The authenticated SSL certificates also benefited at least one security vendor as well. VeriSign reported that Trend Micro had an 8.4 percent increase in service subscriptions for a Japanese-language online store after deploying EV-SSL.

An EV-SSL certificate is not as easy to get as a regular SSL certificate. Part of the process involves getting a lawyer or other authorized organization or individual to vouch for an EV-SSL certificate claim. Though they cost more and are more difficult to obtain, Callan said demand is growing because they help vendors prove that they have secure sites.

"In a very short period of time, Extended Validation SSL has become highly visible as the SSL security of choice for the best online entities," Callan said.

He added that users include major online banks like Bank of America, HSBC and Chase, Web retailers like eBay and Overstock.com and financial services firms like Schwab, Visa and E*TRADE. Microsoft's Hotmail service is also an adopter of the technology, he added.

EV-SSL is supported on most modern browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, and each of the browsers has a form of indicator to notify a user that they are on an EV-SSL protected site.

On Mozilla Firefox, for example, sites encrypted by standard SSL are typically identified with just a padlock icon, while the icon for an EV-SSL site lights up in green.

The certificates are also sold by other vendors, including GoDaddy.com.

There are still some challenges to EV-SSL deployment, however, with education being part of the issue.

"We talk to the businesses that already have adopted EV-SSL to find out what lessons and pitfalls they discover, and then we share that with the new businesses that are about to deploy themselves," Callan said. "And we're engaged in a massive consumer-education campaign with literally billions of advertising impressions to inform active users of online shopping and financial applications about what green address bars mean on a site and how to use them to be safer online."