Brother Canada taps VeriSign for e-commerce security

Brother Canada, and HMV Canada on Monday said they would be deploying technology from VeriSign designed to reassure Web users that their sites are secure.

The Canadian firms have chosen VeriSign’s Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates, which offer visual cues to Web users about a site in their browser, including confirmation of the company name which owns the portal in question. The address bar of the browser also turns green, and a lock icon appears next to the URL. VeriSign’s name will also appear to prove it’s not a pharming Web site designed to steal social insurance numbers or other personal data.

Lina Racaniello, Brother Canada’s marketing and communications manager, said the printer and multi-function device manufacturer has been a longtime customer of other VeriSign services. Brother launched a business to business (B2B) Web site in 2000 but expanded with a business to consumer site last year.

“We knew that (security) was going to be a primary factor for adoption,” she said. “Even though all the trends point to more transactions online, there still seems to be a little bit of reluctance to put their personal information there. Manufacturers really have to work towards reassuring their customers.”

Tim Callan, online security expert at VeriSign, said the company has been offering the certificates in Canada for some time but was only announcing some of its major Canadian wins now. He said the service was primarily designed for companies that realize their business metrics improve if they can move more of their customer relationships to the Web.

“A less obvious scenario is a banking site where it’s in their interest to do banking online instead of going into a branch office,” he said. “They understand that deploying these certificates have a positive effect, instead of situations where you see customers abandoning a (suspicious) site entirely or start pursuing more offline business.”

Racaniello said Brother’s own IT department handled the implementation, even though marketing tends to run the e-commerce side of the business. “We really didn’t have any specific challenges getting this up and running,” she said.

VeriSign originally launched the service in partnership with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, but Callan said it is also available as a plug-in with Firefox 1.5 and 2.x. When Firefox 3 comes out next year, it will include native support for VeriSign’s certificates, he said, adding that a mockup of what it will look like has already been published online.

“It basically looks very similar. They also have a green bar,” he said. “The name of the company is on the left, instead of the right as it is in IE. I view that as a pretty cosmetic thing, personally. Both pieces of information are up there, that’s what’s important.”

While eBay’s PayPal was among the first to adopt the service in order to thwart phishing e-mail messages, Callan said other customers outside of Canada include ING and HSBC.

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