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VeriSign To Expand Sale of 128-Bit Certificates

VeriSign Inc. Monday announced it has won U.S. government approval to expand the sale of 128-bit digital certificates to a number of new customers.

Verisign said it will now be able to offer its Global Server ID digital certificates to online merchants, health care and insurance organizations and overseas subsidiaries of United States corporations.

The certificates are installed on Web servers to establish a 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer session. While export versions of browsers are normally only capable of 40-bit encryption, a Web site using a Global Server ID enables these browsers to use 128-bit encryption.

VeriSign said the availability of Global Server IDs will dramatically improve an organization's ability to conduct secure online commerce without providing specialized software to end users or submitting to key escrow programs and government approval.

"The U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to grant VeriSign approval to broadly issue the 128-bit Web site certificates enables a quantum leap in the use of the Internet for secure communications and e-commerce," said Stratton Sclavos, VeriSign's president and chief executive officer.

Before it issues a company a Global Server ID, VeriSign authenticates the company's existence and ensures it has the right to use its domain name. It also ensures that the government has already granted an organization the right to receive the IDs.

Global Server IDs start at $895 a year and are available on a variety of Web server platforms.