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Who is The SSL Certification Leader?

Bragging rights in the SSL certification market are still a subject of dispute.

GeoTrust said this week that it is growing faster than anyone else. And then VeriSign said it is the undisputed leader in the SSL certificate market.

Regardless of who is the leader or is growing faster, both firms are growing their SSL certification business, as more and more sites turn to the trusted pair for their security certification needs.

The dispute between GeoTrust and VeriSign over top-dog status in the SSL certification market is not a new one. The same issue, ignited by the same spark, also erupted in July 2004.

GeoTrust claims, based on data from Netcraft, that in 2005, "more Web sites added GeoTrust certificates than those of any other vendor." The Netcraft report is not currently publicly available.

A recent SSL Certificate Authority report from SecuritySpace.com also shows GeoTrust in the top spot with GeoTrust holding a 17.44 percent market share, up from 16.75 percent the previous month.

In comparison, VeriSign held a November market share of 13.42 percent down from 13.90 percent in October, according to SecuritySpace.

SecuritySpace's survey, however, does not group all of VeriSign's various brands, which include RSA Data Security, VeriSign Trust Network and Thawte, into one line item.

On a combined basis, VeriSign's brands hold a commanding total market share lead of at least 27.41 percent by SecuritySpace.com's measure.

According to Chad Kinzelberg, vice president of VeriSign Security Services, VeriSign is the undisputed leader in the SSL certificate market in every respect.

"The Netcraft data confirms that VeriSign is the undisputed market share leader, head and shoulders above the rest," Kinzelberg told internetnews.com.

"VeriSign has issued 2.4 million SSL certificates and will continue to be the undisputed leader.

"Ninety-three percent of the Fortune 500 companies, the world's 40 largest banks, and 47 of the top 50 e-commerce sites chose VeriSign, and they can tell you that there is no question who the leader is."

A GeoTrust spokesperson did not respond for a request for comment by press time.

However, in a statement Neal Creighton, president and CEO of GeoTrust, said that, "GeoTrust's strategy has been to make SSL technology readily available to help drive growth of online businesses, so we're particularly gratified to see we've topped the market for SSL certificates securing public sites."

It is the growth of online business and the need to secure those businesses that continued to fuel the SSL certificate market.

"The SSL market is expanding as new e-commerce sites appear online everyday and as consumers are demanding more security in their online activities," VeriSign's Kinzelberg said.

But there are obstacles to the continued growth of the SSL certification business. According to Kinzelberg, trust is at the center of it all.

"More and more phishers, however, are targeting certificate authorities (CAs) with lower authentication standards and using SSL-secured pages to trick users into trusting them," Kinzelberg said. "The result is heightened levels of suspicion all around."

Kinzelberg went on to cite a Dec. 8, 2005, Forrester consumer research report that says 24 percent of U.S. Internet users have stopped shopping online altogether due to security concerns, and 84 percent believe that online retailers are not doing enough to protect their customers online.

"VeriSign is working with leading browser vendors and other CAs to uphold a high standard of certificate issuing process and providing users more transparency and trust in the certificate."



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