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January 19, 2006

GeoTrust gears up to challenge VeriSign in Enterprise SSL

SSL certification authority GeoTrust Inc has taken two important steps to challenge market leader VeriSign Inc in the enterprise market, by extending its offering into the mobile domain, and acquiring the leader in technology for putting certificates on smart cards.

By CBR Staff Writer

The extension into mobile comes as an addition to the company’s Enterprise SSL certification program called ESSL Premium. The two new features in Premium are enhanced compatibility for mobile applications and the introduction of an insurance program beyond the basic warranty, said Steve Waite, marketing director for the EMEA region at the Needham, Massachusetts-based company.

The main difference in terms of support between standard ESSL and Premium is the addition of a whole series of mobile/cellular-specific technologies, including Windows CE 2003, the Pocket PC 2003 and Smartphone 2003 versions of Internet Explorer, Palm/Handspring Blazer 2.0+, BlackBerry 4.0+, BREW, Openwave, and Vodafone’s proprietary mobile platform that GeoTrust expects to add during the course of this year.

Waite said VeriSign already has a lot of the same compatibility in its offering, though maybe we have a bit more because we have a very focused team. However, he said there is an advantage with the GeoTrust technology because an enterprise does not need to download any software to access the web-based portal for its managed service, whereas VeriSign makes them download software to get to the portal, even though it’s a managed service.

Meanwhile, the acquisition, which was actually made at the end of last year but only announced last week, was of TC TrustCenter AG, a certification authority based in Hamburg, Germany, previously owned by US security services vendor Cybertrust Inc. On one level this was about growing its footprint by taking on the 3,500 companies on TrustCenter’s customer base in Germany and other European countries. But it will also give GeoTrust TrustCenter’s expertise in smart cards, and technology that can be integrated into its portfolio globally.

We can put a certificate on a smart card for access to buildings or to a PC, email signatures, encryption, and so on, said Waite. We had some technology in this area, but they have more flexibility and are the acknowledged leaders in interoperability and integration into back-end systems.

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