Verisign jazzes up Trust Mark seal

Just in time for the holidays, Internet infrastructure company VeriSign Inc. is unveiling a new, snazzier design for its ubiquitous VeriSign Trust Mark seal.

The new VeriSign seal replaces the two dimensional GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) image the company has long used to identify its customers' Web sites with a polished-looking Macromedia Inc. Flash animation and will allow VeriSign to unilaterally pull its seal off of Web sites with expired or invalid digital certificates, the company said.

VeriSign allows businesses that use its digital certificates to display the Trust Mark seal on their Web site, according to Mike Foley, vice president of trusted commerce and content at VeriSign.

Before issuing a digital certificate or allowing companies to display the seal, VeriSign verifies that the business is legitimate, that the employee requesting the certificate is acting on behalf of the company and that the business owns or operates the domain for which the certificate is issued, Foley said.

Clicking on the VeriSign Trust Mark seal opens a Web browser window displaying the company's information, as well as a validity period for the certificate that is being used to encrypt communications from users' computers to the company's Web site, he said.

In addition to looking prettier, the new VeriSign seal will improve the quality of information that is displayed when users click on the seal, providing a direct link to data in VeriSign's servers and providing certificate holder information in "real time," Foley said.

Previous versions of the seal also linked to VeriSign's servers, and company spokesmen were not able to elaborate on the differences between the way the old and new systems displayed certificate information.

With the new seal, VeriSign can also unilaterally prevent Trust Mark seals from appearing on Web sites that have expired or revoked certificates. In the past, the company had to work with customers to get the VeriSign seal removed, even after their certificate expired, Foley said.

The new seal will add weight to small online businesses that don't have a strong brand identity on the Internet, advertising to online shoppers that the site uses digital authentication for its online communications, he said.

"It's a good tool to use to communicate credibility to consumers who are trying to find a new place to shop," he said.

For customers who do not allow Flash plug-ins on their Web sites, VeriSign is offering a GIF version of the new seal that features the same animation as the Flash version, but doesn't require a Flash Web browser plug-in, Foley said.

The new seal is available at no extra cost to existing VeriSign Trust Mark program members, but the company will not pressure existing companies to use the new seal, he said.

However, new VeriSign Trust Mark customers will have to use the new seal, which will eventually replace the older version, he said.

VeriSign has more than 375,000 digital certificates installed on Web servers worldwide. The company's online payments business processes around 30 percent of all e-commerce transactions in North America, VeriSign said.

The company has been beta testing the new seal for the last six weeks on e-commerce sites including www.circuitcity.com and anseladams.com.

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