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Obtaining a Digital Certificate from VeriSign or Thawte
There are several companies, called Certificate Authorities (CA's), that issue Digital Certificates. The two largest and most widely supported CA's are VeriSign and Thawte.

NOTE: On December 20, 1999, it was announced that VeriSign, Inc. had acquired Thawte Consulting. It is not yet clear what effect this will have on the services provided by each of these companies.

VeriSign's prices are somewhat higher than those of Thawte, however VeriSign certificates are supported by a larger number older web browsers.

In the explanation included below, the steps necessary to obtain a Digital Certificate from VeriSign and Thawte are discussed. The process required to obtain a Digital Certificate from other signing agencies is very similar. Our Support Staff will be able to assist you with special differences that may exist in obtaining a Digital Certificate from a specific signing agency.

To order and install a VeriSign or Thawte digitally signed certificate you will need to do the following:

  1. First, a "Certificate Signing Request" or CSR must be submitted to VeriSign or Thawte on behalf of your company (or organization).

    1. Fill out the Certificate Request Form and e-mail it to our Digital Certificate Staff. Be sure you indicate in the form whether you are requesting a VeriSign or Thawte certificate.
    2. We will then formulate a "Certificate Signing Request" from the information you provide and return this Request to you. Included in the Request is a block of information delimited by the phrase "NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST". An example of such a block is included here for your reference:

      -----BEGIN NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----
      MIIBJTCB0AIBADBtMQswCQYDVQQGEwJVUzEQMA4GA1UEChs4lBMHQXJpem9uYTEN
      A1UEBxMETWVzYTEfMB0GA1UEChMWTWVs3XbnzYSBDb21tdW5pdHkgQ29sbGVnZTE
      A1UEAxMTd3d3Lm1jLm1hcmljb3BhLmVkdTBaMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA0kAMEYC
      QQDRNU6xslWjG41163gArsj/P108sFmjkjzMuUUFYbmtZX4RFxf/U7cZZdMagz4I
      MmY0F9cdpDLTAutULTsZKDcLAgEDoAAwDQYJKoZIhvcNAQEEBQADQQAjIFpTLgfm
      BVhc9SQaip5SFNXtzAmhYzvJkt5JJ4X2r7VJYG3J0vauJ5VkjXz9aevJ8dzx37ir
      3P4XpZ+NFxK1R=
      -----END NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----

  2. Once you receive the information from us which includes your "NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST", you can then initiate your VeriSign Digital Certificate order at the following URL:

        https://digitalid.verisign.com/server/enrollStep4.htm

    or initiate your Thawte Digital Certificate order at the following URL:

        https://www.thawte.com/cgi-bin/server/step1.exe
        select the "Web Server Certificate" option and "Continue"

    These are the first pages of the VeriSign and Thawte certificate request forms respectively. You must paste your "NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST" block (in its entirety) in the text area included on these pages. This includes both the BEGIN and END certificate request lines (shown below) as well as all lines in between. It is very important that you include the entire block!

        -----BEGIN NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----

    and

        -----END NEW CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----

    After you have pasted your certificate request block in the text area, press the "CONTINUE" button to work through the rest of the certificate request process. (If you are requesting a Thawte certificate, you will be asked to choose your "Web Server Software" - select "Apache-SSL").

    The information that will be required of you in the subsequent steps includes your company name (or organization name), your street address, etc. At a specific point in the enrollment process, VeriSign and Thawte will require a "challenge phrase" or "password". The "challenge phrase" or "password" will be required on future actions you may wish to take in relation to your Digital Certificate.

    For example, if you lose your key pair, or your Digital Certificate is otherwise compromised, you must provide this Challenge Phrase to the Certificate Authority to verify that you are authorized to request revocation of the Digital Certificate. Choose a word or phrase that is easy for you to remember (or write it down), but would be unfamiliar to anyone attempting to impersonate you. Do not use your mother's maiden name, or any other phrase that could be easily guessed. VeriSign and Thawte do not have access to your Challenge Phrase or Password, so you must remember it.

    After you have chosen a challenge phrase or password, continue with the rest of the enrollment form. The final step in the enrollment process sends the request to VeriSign or Thawte, and a PIN (VeriSign) or Certificate ID (Thawte) is returned back to the user. Use this PIN or ID in all correspondence with VeriSign or Thawte concerning the processing of your Digital Certificate.

  3. Now that your Digital Certificate Order is complete, you need to supply authenticating documentation to the signing agency. VeriSign or Thawte will require various documentation such as a business license, Articles of Incorporation, or other charter documents to verify your organization's identity. Procedures for providing this information will be emailed to you shortly after VeriSign or Thawte has received your Certificate Signing Request. If the information you provided is complete and can be verified, your order will be processed within 3-5 business days.

    Should you need to contact VeriSign with regard to your order, you may do so by phone at 415-961-8820 or by email at support@verisign.com. You will be required to provide your PIN and possibly the challenge phrase.

    Thawte will include a phone number and other contact information after you have submitted your certificate request. You can use this information to contact Thawte should the need arise. You will be required to provide your Certificate ID and possibly the password you selected.

    Please note that we cannot act in behalf of you in this matter. Furthermore, we cannot do anything to expedite the certificate generation process. This is strictly dependent upon VeriSign or Thawte.

  4. After the Digital Certificate has been generated, VeriSign will return the signed certificate to you via electronic mail, and Thawte will email you a URL from where you can download your Digital ID. Thawte provides the URL so you can download the certificate in standard format and copy into your e-mail. You will need to forward this message to our Digital Certificate Staff. We can then install the certificate on your Virtual Server. Installation can take from 1-3 business days to complete.


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