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Verisign, nCipher tout hardware-based SSL certs

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VeriSign and hardware encryption specialist nCipher are coming to market with hardware-based SSL Certificates, designed to boost protection against online data theft and Web site spoofing.

The VeriSign Hardware Protected SSL Certificate, available from next month, proves that the private key associated with the certificate is originated, protected and managed in a way that complies with FIPS 140-2 (Federal Information Processing Standard).

This level of assurance is supplied courtesy of nCipher FIPS validated hardware security module (HSM), which boosts performance and protects against software-orientated key finding attacks.

The Hardware Protected SSL Certificate is designed for organisations that are transmitting sensitive data over the Net. Core customers are expected to come from the financial services, government and healthcare sectors.

According to Dave Cullinane, international president of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), hardware-based certificates help build trust and customer confidence. Of course, this falls down if surfers fail to double-check the authenticity of a site. Also false certificates are not exactly the Net fraud weapon de nos jours – they did not feature, for example in two recent prominent scams, the attempt to bilk Nochex and PayPal users.

So, hardware-protected SSL certificates should be seen as just one piece in a security puzzle. But their price may deter many potential customers.

Hardware Protected SSL Certificates will be available from VeriSign and can also be purchased as part of a product bundle from nCipher together with an nForce or nShield HSM. North American promotional pricing for the nForce HSM and a Hardware Protected SSL Certificate starts at $4500; the certificate, sold separately, is priced at $995. ®

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Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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