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Enthusiasm never stops

Free SSL certificates

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More and more people start telling me about the StartSSL SSL authority, which is a daughter company of StartCom. The rumor that they are giving free SSL certificates looked too unbelievable to me, so I decided to review this more carefully.

After much reading at their page, what people say was confirmed – StartSSL really issue SSL certificates for free, when they are about to be used by individuals on their websites. This means that your personal name stays in the SSL certificate information which can be reviewed if you click on the SSL bar in your web browser.

Business or other legal entities verify their company’s information once for an annual fee and can then issue an unlimited count of SSL certificates too, including wild-card ones. Once verified, a business customer can purchase EV certificates for US$ 49.90 per year.

You can compare these prices with any other SSL certificate authority and you’ll see it yourself that StartSSL are the most affordable one, and the only one which doesn’t charge you for what doesn’t cost them money either – that’s why they can offer “loosely verified” SSL certificates for personal websites for free. It’s unbelievable but true.

My IT brain immediately started to doubt the technical side. I had to check if web browsers accept these SSL certificates without issuing an SSL warning about the certificate being signed by an unknown SSL authority. The test results were successful and the SSL root authority of StartSSL was recognized by the latest version of:

  • Internet Explorer 8 on Windows.
  • Chrome on Windows.
  • Firefox on Windows and Linux.
  • Chromium on Linux.

Furthermore, the Debian “lenny”, “squeeze” and Ubuntu Lucid CA repositories also recognize the StartSSL root certificate. You can verify this yourself by the following command:
openssl s_client -CApath /etc/ssl/certs -connect startssl.com:443

StartSSL have a long list with platforms and browsers which recognize their certificates. You can review the list at the products comparison page.

No more self-signed SSL certificates for personal use, hurray! 🙂

Update 29/Nov/2010: If you’re interested, you can also review my success story with the Support staff of StartSSL.

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Author: Ivan Zahariev

An experienced Linux & IT enthusiast, Engineer by heart, Systems architect & developer.

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