Thursday, 14 July 2011

Who Actually Sees the Green Bar for EV SSL Certificates?

We’ve received a few support questions as of late asking about who can or cannot see the green bar and company name in a web browser that accompanies an EV SSL certificate. An EV SSL certificate is one where your organization’s identity is confirmed as legitimate. In return, web browsers that go to secure pages protected by an EV cert will display the URL address bar in green, and display the full company name as well.
Although the majority of web browsers and operating systems will display these security enhancements (more than 75% according to Tim Callan of VeriSign) , there are a few gotchas / situations to be aware of…

Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2.x – No native support

If you or your customers are one of the few percentage of people still running Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox 2, then you’re out of luck. There is no native support in either of these old browsers for displaying the green bar for an EV certificate.

The green bar functionality could be added to either browser via a plugin, but it’s not likely many users who are still running ancient versions would have this plugin installed. Fortunately, less than 10% are using IE6, and less than 1.5% are using FF2 (W3Counter, March 2010).

Internet Explorer 7 with Windows XP – a little tricky

Although IE 7 does natively support the green bar, those using Windows XP as their operating system may not see the bar for a few reasons:
  • The Phishing Filter is disabled (Tools -> Phishing Filter)
  • Any insecure items on a secure page, or certificate errors (intermediate, etc…) will disable the green bar
  • The user has not applied the Windows update for an updated “root certificate”
Internet Explorer 8 with Windows XP – SmartFilter

For Windows XP users using IE8 as their browser, there is a little known requirement for the green bar to appear:
  • The SmartScreen Filter feature in IE8 must be enabled (Tools -> Options -> Advanced)
    (or right click the little square at the bottom right of the screen next to the globe)

Vista, Windows 7, with IE7+, FF3 – No problem

For these more modern operating systems, Extended Validation SSL green bar technology is natively supported. No plugins, no weird settings in the browser. It just works. The good news is as more people upgrade from XP to Windows 7, this will become the norm.

The rest: Safari, Opera, Chrome

Chrome supports EV in all versions. Safari does in versions 3.2 and higher, and Opera does in version 9.5 and up.

With over 20,000 EV SSL certificates in use as of December 2009 (Netcraft December 2009 survey), EV is becoming more mainstream in terms of the average customer recognizing the green bar (and soon to be expecting the green bar for all secure transactions). And as the number of people using old operating systems and old browsers dwindles, the green bar will be as accepted as the padlock is today in terms of re-assuring customers at the time of purchase.

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