Thawte is an Internet company that is based out of South Africa. They are a certificate provider for X.509 certificates. Mark Shuttleworth started the company in 1995 and, to date, they are the fifth largest public certificate issuer on the Internet. Thawte was originally run from a garage. They originally aimed to provide secure servers for customers, but ultimately began to focus on certificates, building one of the largest businesses in the industry.

The company has largely grown through sales, mergers, and acquisitions. In 1999, Verisign bought Thawte for $575 million. These two companies had the first certificate for Netscape browsers during the browser wars.

An interesting fact about Thawte is that Shuttleworth has gone on to do some pretty amazing things after the Thawte sale. Shuttleworth used his money from the Thawte sale to help fund the Ubuntu project, an alternate browser for smart devices and computers. 

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The Good

  • Fast issuing time
  • Help with product selection
  • Liability protection and price alignment
  • Certificate center account and renew reminders
  • Support
  • Browser ubiquity
  • International browser compatibility

Thawte offers four different lines of SSL certificates for customers. These include the SSL123 basic certificate, SSL Web Server certificates, EV SSL certificates, and wildcard SSL certificates.

Fast Issuing Time

One of the things that we noticed about Thawte was the fast website issuance time. The SSL123 certificate, which ensures domain validation only, has the fastest issuing time, within one business day or less. Their other certificates can all be issued within 1-2 business days. For this fast issuance time, you need to provide high-quality information for the verification process. However, with other SSL certificate providers, we saw issuance times that took as long as 10 business days.

Help With Product Selection

When we looked at other SSL certificate providers, we wondered what product would be best for our needs. Thawte does a good job of explaining the best use of their different SSL certificate products.

  • SSL123 Certificate: For secure, private connection for TLS and server to server communication.
  • SSL Web Server Certificates: Secure logins for employee and public ecommerce sites.
  • EV SSL Certificates: Ensuring the highest trust from all users.
  • Wildcard SSL Certificates: Secure unlimited subdomains.
Liability Protection and Price Alignment

Overall, we felt like the certificate price bought an appropriate amount of liability security. The lowest level of liability for Thawte came with the SSL123 Certificate, a cap of $500,000. The EV certificate has up to $1.5 million worth of coverage, while all other certificates max out at $1.25 million worth of coverage.

Certificate Center Account and Renew Reminders

We really liked the fact that Thawte supports a certificate dashboard that reminds customers to renew their certificate. The dashboard also has other user features. In addition, you receive regular emails when you are getting close to your renewal deadline.

Support

We were pretty concerned with using an SSL certificate company that was based out of South Africa. With Thawte, we found robust customer support, which included phone support, email, support, and live chat. If you decide to use Thawte, you will get a response to your inquiry. There is also a US toll-free number so that you don't incur an additional phone charge.

Browser Ubiquity

We had some concerns with the type of browser compatibility from a foreign SSL certificate that we might encounter. We found that Thawte offers a 99.9% browser ubiquity rating, which means they will work on Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari, the leading browsers. Compatibility with browsers like Opera is also possible.

International Browser Compatibility

One of the things that we really liked about Thawte was the compatibility with International Domain Names (IDNs). This lets you add other characters from other languages to a domain name so that it can be verified throughout the world. Overall, this was a standard feature that was missing from some of the other American-based SSL companies.

The Bad

  • Lack of alternate naming
  • Subpar security seals

There were some things about Thawte that raised some concerns. We noticed some basic features missing, such as alternate naming, as well as some features that were not so outstanding.

Lack of Alternate Naming

With nearly every other SSL certificate company we reviewed, we noticed that all levels of certificate included subject alt naming. For example, if your website is "www.domain.com," you can also secure your site if your customer types in "domain.com." There is alternate naming available on some certificate products, but this costs extra:

  • SSL Web Server Certificates: $149 per year.
  • EV Certificates: $224 per year.

This is a standard SSL feature that should be included with every certificate.

Subpar Security Seals

With Thawte, we found that there weren't a wide variety of site security seals. This was a feature that we expected to better. The site seal is not customizable at all and we couldn't find out whether this would appear next to a login on your website. There is only one site seal with Thawte. We would like to be able to see better certificate seals with Thawte.

Also, there is not a specialized browser bar logo for Thawte either, a feature that we found with other providers in the industry.

The Bottom Line

Take your time while considering Thawte. For us, the lack of subject alternate naming for websites is a big deal. This is a standard feature in the industry and Thawte charges a little bit extra for it for two of their certificates.

While we like Thawte's prices and liability coverage, the lack of subject alternate naming is a feature that we found with SSL companies that charged significantly less. We also really didn't like the site seal. Site seals help increase conversions while keeping customers on your website.

If you're looking for an affordable SSL certificate, however, we do recommend Thawte as a provider of SSL certificates for the maximum amount of coverage.

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