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GeoTrust takes on VeriSign for Euro -certs business

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Digital certificate company GeoTrust is expanding its operations to Europe as part of a bid to steal market share from market leader VeriSign with cheaper and easier to obtain digital certificate and identity products.

GeoTrust is opening an office in Maidstone, Kent next week to provide improved localised support to customers and recruit more partners in the region.

The company’s QuickSSL digital certificates enables merchants to obtain online credentials in minutes, as opposed to the two days or more that VeriSign takes, using an automated system to reduce costs.

GeoTrust says it certificates cost $159 (£99) compared to prices of between $350 and $199 respectively charged by VeriSign and its Thawte subsidiary.

GeoTrust chief exec Neal Creighton said its automated system has checks that make it at least as secure as manually issued certs. These include a comparison of the details of a person requesting a cert against the details in the Whois database for a particular domain. The system also phones buyers to confirm their identity, and features anti-fraud algorithms designed to flag up suspicious behaviour.

Although VeriSign has criticised this system, Creighton maintains it has issued “tens of thousands of certificates” without incident.

Securityspace.com reports that GeoTrust had a 13.5 per cent share of the SSL security certificates (the company quotes figures of 18.75 per cent of .com and .net domains). Creighton has set a goal for GeoTrust to become the leading SSL certificate provider in Europe over the next three years. The company is targeting small and medium-sized online merchants in particular.

At present, 60 per cent of GeoTrust’s revenues come from merchant SSL certificates with around 40 per cent coming from enterprise products – a position it would like to reverse over the next year or so. GeoTrust reckons that by focusing on business unit – rather than enterprise-wide - deployments of encryption technology it can better meet the needs of the market than larger competitors.

The firm also sees the growth potential in providing technology to digitally sign code or documents. For example, GeoTrust middleware is already used to digitally sign code in Microsoft Smartphones as a mechanism to prevent unauthorised programs running on operator’s networks. ®

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