VeriSign claims that its Extended Validation (EV) authentication programme is paying big dividends for retailers just two years after its launch.
Known for the distinctive green URL bar which appears in most browsers, the initiative was designed to replace the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) scheme, which flagged secure sites by placing a small golden lock within the browser window.
According to VeriSign, however, those gold locks were becoming far too easy to obtain.
Product marketing manager Ryan White told vnunet.com that in some cases, companies were able to obtain an SSL certification by doing nothing more than confirming a domain registration.
"Fifteen years ago, the padlock was great," he said. "However, as online crime evolved, it became less effective."
To solve the problem and renew consumer confidence, the new EV programme was designed to be far more strict than the original SSL. The EV SSL certification includes 150 pages of guidelines and requirements.
To earn the certification from VeriSign, a retailer must provide such information as verification of registration as a business, proof of control and ownership of the domain, and verification that the person applying for the certification works for the company.
Additional steps are taken to ensure that the applicant is not a rogue employee, such as contacting a vice president or higher for verification and a written letter of acknowledgement from an attorney.
Whereas the gold lock can be had in a matter of hours for under $100 (£57), achieving EV certification can be far more costly and takes anywhere from two to three days for full authentication to be granted.
In many cases, the longer, more expensive process would ruin a programme. But White said that, in the case of the EV, it is a major benefit.
"A lot of time the customer will say it was a real pain, but that's the point, it's harder for the bad guys to do it," he explained.
White said that the new initiative is especially beneficial to smaller online retailers, which are often met with worried customers who are reluctant to trust an unknown site.
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