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FAQ


What do you consider low volume, low transaction?
If you have a low volume website and you decide that your customer's confidence is not affected at all by the brand behind the SSL certificate or the volume of customers that would have an issue are insignificant in number then RapidSSL is the perfect answer.

It is all about customer confidence. Whilst RapidSSL technology is production grade, only you can really determine whether your customers confidence will improve significantly if you purchase an established brand like GeoTrust.

As a guide, typical customer transaction value is sub 50 USD, and volumes of transactions are less than 50 per week.

Note: The 50 per week example figure is simply a commercial guide and not a technical restriction. Technically the RapidSSL certificate will not be restricted from conducting more transactions than 50 - they are still industry standard 128 / 256 bit SSL certificates. However it is our opinion that sites conducting more than 50 transactions will require a Professional Level SSL certificate due to the increased likelihood that the website's customers will expect SSL from a highly credible and established SSL provider and well known internationally accepted SSL brand.

What is a Single Root SSL Certificate?
When connecting to a webserver over SSL, the visitor's browser decides whether or not to trust the website's SSL certificate based on which Certification Authority has issued the actual SSL certificate. To determine this, the browser looks at its list of trusted issuing authorities - represented by a collection of Trusted Root CA certificates added into the browser by the browser vendor (such as Microsoft and Netscape).

Most SSL certificates are issued by CAs who own and use their own Trusted Root CA certificates, such as those issued by GeoTrust and RapidSSL.com. As GeoTrust and RapidSSL.com is known to browser vendors as a trusted issuing authority, its Trusted Root CA certificate has already been added to all popular browsers, and hence is already trusted. These SSL certificates are known as "single root" SSL certificates. RapidSSL.com, a subsidiary of GeoTrust, owns the Equifax root used to issue its certificates.

Some Certification Authorities do not have a Trusted Root CA certificate present in browsers, or do not use the root they do own, and use a "chained root" in order for their SSL certificates to be trusted - essentially a CA with a Trusted Root CA certificate issues a "chained" certificate which "inherits" the browser recognition of the Trusted Root CA. These SSL certificates are known as "chained root" SSL certificates.

Installation of chained root certificates are more complex and some web servers and applications are not compatible with chained root certificates.

For a Certification Authority to have and use its own Trusted Root CA certificate already present in browsers is a clear sign that they are long-time, stable and credible organizations who have long term relationships with the browser vendors (such as Microsoft and Netscape) for the inclusion of their Trusted Root CA certificates. For this reason, such CAs are seen as being considerably more credible and stable than chained root certificate providers who do not have a direct relationship with the browser vendors, or do not use their own root certificates to issue SSL certificates.

You can view the Certification Authorities who have and use their own root certificates by viewing the list in your browser.

Chained root certificates require additional effort to install as the webserver must also have the chained root installed. This is not necessary for single root certificates.

What is browser ubiquity or browser recognition?
Browser ubiquity is the term used in the industry to describe the estimated percentage of Internet users that will inherently trust an SSL certificate. The lower the browser ubiquity, the less people will trust your certificate - clearly, if you are operating a commercial site you require as many people as possible to trust your SSL certificate. As a general rule, any SSL certificate with over 95% browser ubiquity is acceptable for a commercial site.

Ubiquity is however not the only consideration in deciding whether one SSL certificate is better than another. Many companies running high transaction volume web sites need to maximize customer confidence and therefore buy certificates from well known, long time security vendors and mostly use the major players e.g. GeoTrust and Verisign who are all WebTrust compliant.

If you have a low volume web site and you decide that your customers confidence is not effected at all by the brand behind the SSL certificate, or the volume of customers that would have an issue are insignificant in number, then RapidSSL or RapidSSL Wildcard certificates are ideal.

What is SSL?
The SSL (and TLS) protocol is the Web standard for encrypting communications between users and SSL (secure sockets layer) e-commerce sites. Data sent via an SSL connection is protected by encryption, a mechanism that prevents eavesdropping and tampering with any transmitted data. SSL provides businesses and consumers with the confidence that private data sent to a Web site, such as credit card numbers, are kept confidential. Web server certificates (also known as secure server certificates or SSL certificates) are required to initialize an SSL session.

Customers know when they have an SSL session with a website when their browser displays the little gold padlock and the address bar begins with a https rather than http. SSL certificates can be used on webservers for Internet security and mailservers such as imap, pop3 and smtp for mail collection / sending security.

What type of customer service do you offer?
We offer full telephone, email and web support to our FreeSSL, RapidSSL and Professional Level customers. Our support staff are highly experienced in supporting SSL and webservers and will be happy to help you with technical inquiries in the US from 8am to 8pm EST and in the UK from 9am to 5pm GMT.

What type of validation is required?
A trust hierarchy demands that entities "vouch" for each other. Companies that issue SSL certificates are in the business of establishing that entities on the web are, in fact, who they claim to be. The potential for criminal activity on the web (in relevance to SSL anyway), is in online 'hijacking' of sites or connections to siphon encrypted data. Persons so inclined can easily "copy" web site interfaces and pose as well known vendors, simply to collect these data.

SSL certificates work to prevent this through ensuring that www.abc.com is, in fact, ABC Co. In the "real world" we use identification procedures like photo ids, telephone calls and papers of incorporation to know with whom we are dealing. If products or services are defective, buyers can seek recourse. In the "online world", companies wishing to use SSL certificates must prove to the certificate authority that they have the right to present themselves online as ABC Co.

This is done through a variety of means in different SSL products. For the sake of simplicity, consider the method started and championed by Verisign, as the 'traditional' model. The process involves certificate petitioners faxing in their articles of incorporation, and then waiting several days to be granted a certificate to do business online under that name. There is a fair amount of overhead related to this task, as these credentials are examined and reviewed, and full-service products in this arena can cost hundreds of dollars.

There are newer, lower-cost alternatives in which certificates are issued more quickly. These certificates verify that the certificate holder is the owner of that domain, ensuring customers that domain name "owners" are who they claim to be.

There are also other validation options, like two-way, real-time telephony. Certificate applicants are required to provide telephone numbers, and certificate authorities call to verify basic information, yet another way to seek recourse in the event of problems.

So there are essentially two types of validation available, manual and automated.

Manual Validation.
Involves the validation of domain name ownership and business legitimacy using humans. This process is traditionally slow and takes up to two working days, often longer. A manually validated certificate usually contains the following information within the certificate:



Auto-Validation.
Computers, databases and automated routines validate domain name ownership and business legitimacy. The process takes minutes rather than days. The GeoTrust QuickSSL product and RapidSSL.com FreeSSL and ChainedSSL products use automated validation to issue SSL certificates within 10 minutes. Their automated validation processes are WebTrust compliant and use Domain Control validation and Unique Business Registration to validate the applicant before issuing the certificate.

An automatically validated certificate, such as the GeoTrust or RapidSSL.com certificates, contain the following information within the certificate:



What type of web site application. Low volume, professional or development?
Perhaps the most important differentiation between all the SSL certificates available on the market today, is the strength of the brand behind the SSL technology. SSL technology besides ensuring secure transmission of data, is an essential element in providing online customers with the confidence to buy or use a product or service.

For example, the greater the number of users visiting a website, the greater the probability that some customers may not complete a transaction, simply because they do not recognise or trust the brand behind the SSL technology.

Inevitably the well known brands from the credible long standing CAs are the most expensive SSL certificates on the market. If you have a low volume or development website and you decide that your customer's confidence is not affected at all by the brand behind the SSL certificate or the volume of customers that would have an issue are insignificant in number then the choice of CA and certificate is increased. Low volume websites can therefore enjoy significant savings on the SSL purchases by purchasing the lesser known brands of SSL certificates.

We suggest as a guide that if a website is performing more than 50 transactions per week then, it is advisable to use a known SSL brand.

Another important consideration is the typical or average transaction value that a website will process. If customers are expected to pay high amounts online the greater the probability that some customers may not complete a transaction because they do not trust the brand behind the SSL technology.

We suggest as a guide that if a website has an average transaction of greater than 50 USD, it is advisable to use a known SSL brand from a reputable CA.

When trying to go to the site over https, it displays the message 'The page cannot be displayed'?
Usually caused by port 443 not allowed through firewall or by the SSL certificate not having a corresponding key file.

Why do you ask for documentation when I apply for a certificate?
We recognize that strong validation is essential for the continuing growth of ecommerce. Before issuing a certificate we validate both that the applicant owns, or has legal right to use, the domain name featured in the application and secondly that the applicant is a legitimate and legally accountable entity. To do this, we need to have access to documentation which verifies these two factors

Why does the secure part of the website say the name on the security certificate is invalid or does not match the name of the site?
This is usually caused by the certificate having a Common Name of "domain.com" and the customer is going to "www.domain.com"

Why does the website say the SSL certificate is 'Untrusted'?
The usual cause of this is that the intermediate certificate has not been loaded.

Why is browser recognition important?
If a website visitor is using a browser that does not contain the root CA certificate used to issue the SSL certificate, they will be prompted with a security warning:



The signifies that the SSL Certificate has been issued by a CA that the browser does not trust. As more people upgrade their old browsers, this message becomes less frequent. It is also worth noting that people who do not upgrade their browsers are less technically and security savvy and hence are less likely to purchase from websites.

Another consideration often overlooked concerning the overall ubiquity of a SSL certificate is the issue over Webserver Compatibility. The SSL Certificate is required to be installed onto a webserver. Generally, all webservers accept all SSL certificates currently available but it is recommended to check with the CA to be sure. Webservers such as Apache (including the website control panel variants), IIS, Webstar, Website Pro, Java based, iPlanet, Zeus, Netscape server, Cobalt support the certificates of all SSL certificates featured in this whitepaper.

There are few webservers still in use that do not support the use of intermediate certificates. Such webservers are not SSL v3 compliant. If your webserver does not support SSL v3, then you will need to select a CA that issues certificates directly off its root such as GeoTrust and RapidSSL.com.

Why is encryption strength important?
The bigger the number, the longer it takes for computer(s) to crack or break the code.
  • 40 bit: It is computationally feasible to crack a 40 bit key. For this reason 40 bit encryption is rarely used.
  • 128 /256 bit: It is computationally unfeasible to crack a 128 / 256 bit key. All banking infrastructures use 128/ 256 bit encryption. We strongly recommend the use of 128 / 256 bit SSL encryption for any application or website.

Why is stability important for SSL certificates?
All SSL certificates issued by RapidSSL.com are issued from a trusted CA root certificate that is owned by RapidSSL.com. This means that all our certificates are stable.

Owning and using our own root certificate means that RapidSSL.com is always in control of its pricing. This gives us the ability to change pricing depending on market dynamics ensuring that we will always offer our resellers the lowest cost SSL certificate available in the market!

What is Wild Card Certificates?
Wildcard certificate is a secure SSL certificate that allows you to manage multiple sub domains on a single domain on a server with a single Certificate. Wildcard SSL certificates are designed to secure multiple sites that share the same second-level domain

What is EV?
Web sites secured with an EV certificate display a green address bar to demonstrate to customers they have reached a highly authenticated site when viewed with high security browsers. In addition to the green address bar, an adjoining field displays both the names of the organization that owns the Web site and the CA that issued the certificate