Definitions

Thawte

Thawte

Thawte Consulting is a certificate authority (CA) for X.509 certificates. Thawte, (pronounced like "thought"), was founded in 1995 by Mark Shuttleworth in South Africa and is the second largest public CA on the Internet.

Origins

Thawte was originally run from Shuttleworth's parents' garage. Shuttleworth's original project was to produce a secure server not fettered by the restrictions on the export of cryptography which had been imposed by the U.S. The server, Sioux, was an adaptation of the Apache HTTP server; it was later integrated with the Stronghold web server as Thawte began to concentrate more on their certification activities.

Sale

In 1999 VeriSign acquired Thawte in a stock purchase from Shuttleworth for . Both VeriSign and Thawte had certificates in the first Netscape browsers, and were thus 'grandfathered' into all other web browsers. Before VeriSign's purchase, they each had about 50% of the market. VeriSign's certificate rollover was due to take place on 1 January 2000 - an unfortunate choice considering the imminent Y2K bug. (Thawte had a similar rollover in July 1998.) The purchase of Thawte ensured there would be no business loss over Y2K.

Proceeds from the sale enabled Shuttleworth to become the second space tourist, and to found the Ubuntu project.

Web of trust

Thawte also provides free client certificates which can be used to sign emails or to assert one's identity to a web site. These certificates are based on a Web of trust model (similar to CAcert.org). In this case, your identity is assured by meeting one or more Thawte Notaries who will need to see identification and keep a copy of it (for at least five years). Each notary can assign a certain number of points based on their experience (per table below); once you have acquired a certain number of points (currently 50) you can request a certificate with your name in it as well as your email address, and another level of points (currently 100) will allow you to become a notary yourself. (Certificates issued to people who currently have fewer than 50 points in the Web of Trust will have "Thawte Freemail Member" in the name field, rather than the certificate owner's name.)

Assertions made
by the notary
Maximum points that
the notary may award
0 10
5 15
10 20
15 25
25 30
35 35

See also

References

External links

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