Go Daddy Now An SSL Certificate Authority

Domain registrar Go Daddy Inc. is bringing its price-cutting ways to the market for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for e-commerce sites. On Monday, the company began selling 128-bit SSL certificates through its Starfield Technologies subsidiary.

With its huge customer base and reseller network, Go Daddy is positioned to make a sudden impact in the SSL market, where the vast majority of certificates are issued by three companies - VeriSign (which also owns Thawte), GeoTrust and The Comodo Group. "We're looking to become a major player in this particular industry," Go Daddy President and CEO Bob Parsons said in an interview yesterday. "We've spent about a year preparing for this."

The GoDaddy certificates are priced at $89.95, well below comparable products from GeoTrust ($149 a year) and VeriSign ($199 to $349 a year and up). Comodo's Pro SSL certificate sells for $69, but differs slightly from the others in that it relies upon a "chained" root owned by a third party, BeTrusted.

Parsons said Starfield Technologies purchased the Valicert Class 2 Policy Validation Authority last year. By purchasing an existing "trusted" certificate authority Go Daddy ensured that the Starfield certificates will be accepted by 99 percent of web browsers, including Internet Explorer 5.01 and higher, AOL 5 and higher, Netscape 4.7 and higher and Opera 7.5 and up.

Starfield's validation process will verify that a business applicant is registered with state or local authorities, and owns the domain for which the certificate is being purchased.

Go Daddy entered the domain registration business in 1999, when domains were priced at $35 per year. The Scottsdale, Ariz. company currently sells .com domains for $7.95 per year and .biz names for as low as $4.95. That aggressive pricing has helped Go Daddy become the fastest-growing hosting provider in recent months, with more than 1.9 million hostnames.

The Netcraft Secure Server Survey examines the use of encrypted transactions on the Web through extensive automated exploration of the Internet. Each month it provides timely data about the number of companies doing encrypted transactions, the servers software they use, and the market share for certificate issuers.