SSL is Secure Sockets Layer is a security protocol that provides users with a secure channel between two machines connecting via the internet.
What is a standard SSL certificate?
With standard SSL certificates, the certification authority simply verifies the ownership of the domain.
This means that a site will run on a different portal which is secure and encrypts information sent via it. In other words, the web address of a site authenticated by SSL will begin with HTTPS instead of HTTP. A padlock will also appear, verifying that the site is secured by SSL.
What is an SSL certificate with Extended Validation (EV)?
SSL certificates with extended validation are considered to be superior to the standard SSL certificate because the authentication process is far more in depth. The certification authority (in our case, Thawte) verifies a raft of additional details including: company registration information, details of the company officers and associated physical and operational addresses. Basically, they verify that we are who we say we are.
When issued with this certificate, a website will display the normal features of the SSL certificate (https and the secure padlock) but will also display the following:
- The legal owner of the website’s name in address bar (eg. “PayFast (Pty) Ltd”)
- A green address bar
To date, only 2 of the 4 major South Africa banks use the same level SSL certificate that PayFast now does. So dealing with PayFast could be more secure that dealing with your own bank!
Here are a few screen shots of how you can identify whether a website has been issued with an SSL EV certificate. Note, browsers depict it differently so I have displayed images for several types.
What does this mean for you?
- PayFast is using the highest SSL security available providing a safe and secure environment for all buyers and receivers thereby assuring payments are not tampered with and minimizing the likelihood of fraud.
- You can easily spot a phishing website as anyone trying to impersonate PayFast will not have an SSL with EV certificate displaying the legal name of “PayFast (Pty) Ltd”. So always look out for this!
Who Thawte is
Thawte was founded by Mark Shuttleworth and was the first to issue SSL certificates to ‘public entities’ outside of the United States. Thawte was obtained by VeriSign, inc in 2000 and falls into part of the brands that comprise VeriSign.