VeriSign rolls out new Web site verification service

The subscription service is designed for those Web sites not using SSL certificates

VeriSign is introducing a certification service that confirms whether a business is legitimate and that their Web site is free of malware.

VeriSign already sells various SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates for Web sites that aim to let visitors know the site meets high standards for encryption of sensitive information. Those sites are also allowed to display a so-called "trust seal," designed to inspire confidence in the Web site.

The latest product, VeriSign Trust Seal, is aimed at small and medium-size businesses that do not need to purchase a SSL certificate because they don't directly handle sensitive information, said Martin Mackay, VeriSign vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The target business for VeriSign is one that may outsource their payment processing to a third-party Web site but still may want to have their brand and Web site vetted for security problems.

If a business signs up, VeriSign checks to see if the business is real. "We will go out and check that the business is a registered business with the appropriate authority in the country concerned," Mackay said.

If approved, the business can display the "Trust Seal" on their Web site, which is essentially a badge that, if clicked, shows further verification information. While the badge has been faked before, the fake ones don't show further information, Mackay said. VeriSign contends that potential visitors are more likely to buy something when they see VeriSign's seals.

The business's Web site will also get a daily scan for malware. VeriSign has partner with an unnamed vendor to provide that service. The scan can find if a Web site has been hacked and rigged to attack computers visiting the site.

Hackers often look for weak Web sites in order to spread malware. One type of attack is a drive-by download, where the victim's computer is attacked upon merely visiting a bad Web page. If the Web browser software, for example, isn't up to date, the computer could be infected.

A one-year subscription to Trust Seal costs US$299. The service will be sold through starting Thursday and its resellers later this year.

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