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Extended Validation Certificates -- Or "How can top level registrars screw you even more?" (already hacked, btw)

By Andrew Pollack on 07/21/2008 at 11:28 AM EDT

It isn't enough for Verisign and their ilk to suck a hundred bucks a year from every mom and pop internet shop on the market. Now they've created a new standard with the purpose of turning that $100 cost into $500 a year.

By paying for this "Extended Validation Certificate" you get a new special certificate that turns the address bar "GREEN". The browser makers have been talked into supporting this apparently.

Next comes the big advertising campaign that tells all the shoppers out there that if it doesn't make the address bar go green, its not a safe place to shop.

Why did they need this? They've offered higher cost certificates for years.

The advantage you get buying one of their "special" certificates now is the right to a badge or graphic emblem proclaiming your site to be super duper. Very few business pay for this. It means nothing to users.

By getting this new standard built into browsers, they want to make a universal trust sign that they can teach users to watch. Sure, that's what the "Lock" symbol on SSL pages was meant to do, but that's not good enough for these guys. They need to control it specifically for a higher tier (cost) of certificate.

I predict this will quickly become a "race to the bottom" for pricing, but it will still end up costing you twice the price of a regular certificate once the dust settles.

Wikipedia: Extended_Validation_Certificate

I did a quick Google search on "Extended Validation SSL" to compare pricing:

NetworkSolutionsDigicertVerisignThawteInstant SSLGoDaddy
Basic Authentication$89$144$399$99 (Sale)
* Basic Authentication standards vary. Some do more authentication than others, but all will look the same to most users.
Extended Validation$399.50 (sale)

By the way -- its already been hacked:

This Document (link) describes in depth the details on making IE7 (the first browser to natively support the money making SSL) turn the bar green for a self created certificate. They include a chart showing what versions were tested, with patches (complete as of June 2nd) and what versions of the OS required a user prompt and which ones did not.

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