SSL Seals or SSL Certificates have long been used as a way to provide 3rd party verification and authentication of a website. The idea behind these certificates is that the user can feel assured that the site they are visiting (or possibly typing their credit card information into) is what it actually appears to be.
This has grown ever more important with phishing attempts becoming a daily affair for many users. The latest industry standard technology solution to this authentication is the use of Extended Validation (EV) Certificates.
These are seals that work with new generation internet browsers (such as MSIE 7) to display the URL address bar in various colors depending on the trust level. EV verified sites will show green and all other sites will show in other colors (such as red for a known phishing site and yellow for a questionable site). Websites with non-EV Certificates show the closed padlock and ‘https’ but the browser address bar remains white. You can see a screen shot of a “Green Light” site on the MSDN Blog (link here).
Without getting too deep into the technical aspects of SSL Certificates, it looks like at least some sort of SSL seal is going to be necessary for just about any business website that conducts transactions. If that’s your home-based business, it might be time to start thinking about budgeting for a certificate. As consumers (your customers and clients) get more educated about the way websites appear on their browser, they are likely to click away from something they don’t trust. And if that trust becomes tied to a color in URL address space, your web-based business had better pass the ‘color test’!
Here is a partial list of some companies that offer SSL Certificates. The EV Certificate is fairly new and doesn’t appear to be widely available yet.