Return Path Goes Green!

Posted by Tom Bartel on

Sure, going green is all the rage these days, but I’m not talking about “human-ecology” green, but rather “online-trust-ecology” green.

Earlier this month, we activated an Extended Validation SSL certificate for our senderscore.org website domain. For those who aren’t familiar, EV certificates are an enhanced type of domain registration. They were introduced largely to address phishing and other Internet fraud which continues to degrade consumer confidence.

When consumers visit an EV SSL certified domain site they will notice a green address bar signifying registrant identity verification for that site (see screen shot below). The EV certification process is carried out by a certifying agent, in this case GoDaddy, which follows a carefully designed procedure (designed by the Certification Authority Browser Forum consortium) for validating the identity of a domain owner.

As for whether it helps consumer confidence – at least one study says so. Verisign, working with Tec-Ed Research, found that 97 percent of online shoppers are likely to share their credit card information on sites with the green EV bar, as opposed to only 63 percent who were willing to share information with non-EV sites.

Use of these certificates by web sites and banks is becoming more common. It provides an additional mechanism for site operators and domain owners to differentiate themselves as trustworthy and help consumers further validate the site operator is who they appear to be.

So why did Return Path implement this certification? Well, as our clients know, we like to lead by example and “walk our talk” whenever possible. In this case we not only wanted to learn from the experience and understand directly a solution in the marketplace, but we also wanted to send a clear signal to the email industry showing that it isn’t impossible to implement and adopt principles and standards.

Speaking of best practices, principles and standards – another reason we took this step is due to our long-time participation and support of the Online Trust Alliance (OTA, formerly known as AOTA). OTA is committed to supporting business and industry in creating an atmosphere of confidence and trust online for consumers. As part of that mission, OTA advocates the use of EV certificates specifically for ecommerce and banking sites for promoting trust online. (See OTA principle #2 and this recent press release about adoption of EV Certification in Germany.)

So, even though senderscore.org is not an ecommerce site, we believe that having the EV certificate will add to the sense of trust and reliability with our site visitors. You can see our certificate in action simply by visiting senderscore.org with a compatible browser (most current browsers recognize EV certificates). The screenshots are below show the default view and the click view.

Overall, obtaining the EV Certificate was relatively a straightforward process. If anyone is considering this for their site and has any questions I’d be happy to discuss the process with you. Leave me your questions in the comment field below this post.

EV Certificate1.png

EV Certificate2.png


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About Tom Bartel

Tom Bartel is Return Path’s Senior Vice President of ThreatWave Data. Tom has more than 20 years of email delivery, email data and privacy experience. He most recently joined Return Path through its acquisition of ThreatWave, where he served as CEO/Co-founder. Prior to that, he has held roles at Return Path, MessageMedia (acquired by DoubleClick), and founded several other startups. Tom is actively involved in key industry organizations, such as OTA and M3AAWG, and advises start-ups and non-profits. Tom has a Bachelor in Speech Communication from Colorado State University.

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