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Tim Callan is vice president for SSL product marketing at VeriSign, a Mountain View, CA-based company that operates a diverse array of network infrastructure, including two of the Internet’s thirteen root nameservers, the generic top-level domains for .com and .net, one of the largest SS7 signaling networks in North America, the RFID directory for EPCGlobal and a variety of security and telecom services. The company calls it all “intelligent infrastructure” In the first of a two-part interview, GlobeSt.com asked Callan to explain more about VeriSign’s business.

GlobeSt.com: VeriSign “is the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the digital world.” In plain English, what does that mean?Callan: VeriSign provides several key components of the Internet as we think of it today. The two most important of these are Domain Name Services (DNS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates. DNS services connect a typed Web address (such as www.verisign.com) to an actual machine-language address, which is typically a set of four three-digit strings separated by dots. Among other domain extensions, VeriSign provides DNS service for all .com and .net Web addresses.

VeriSign is also the oldest and most popular provider of SSL Certificates. SSL Certificates are the basic technology that enables encrypted communication when attaching to a Web site and SSL Certificates also can be a mechanism that verifies the identity of a Web site so that a visitor can confirm exactly which business she is attaching to.

GlobeSt.com: Why are services and products like that important to commercial real estate sites, which don’t conduct commerce online, but still have an abundance of data to protect?Callan: Sites do not need to conduct e-commerce to be potential risk points for their visitors. In fact, the most feared form of online crime by end users is identity theft, whereby online criminals gather the essential information required to create false identities and obtain credit by abusing a real victim’s good financial reputation. Real estate transactions are activities full of information that would be beneficial to an online criminal seeking to steal identities for fraud purposes, and Internet users are aware of this fact. That awareness leads to reductions online businesses people are willing to undertake.

GlobeSt.com: Can corporate IT departments create adequate protections for networked systems or does the best protection involve educating employees about potential risks?

Callan: Really, the answer is both. Absolutely. Corporate IT departments need to protect their systems from a variety of attacks meant to exploit holes in network security. But whenever people are involved in using a system, there’s always the chance that their own actions will allow the criminals in. IT professionals can take measures to help their users by making it easier to distinguish correct online systems from frauds. For example, Extended Validation SSL Certificates are a growing new technology that clearly indicates the identity of the business that owns any given Web site. Clearly distinguishable by the green address bar that appears at the top of the user’s browser, the Extended Validation certificate makes it possible to users to know definitively that they’re on the site they expect and not a clever criminal who is trying to counterfeit that site. Online businesses can add these green address bars to their sites in order to protect their visitors and themselves, and visitors can feel more confident when dealing with one of these sites because they know who is receiving their information on the other end.

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