I have long enjoyed e-mail security thanks to a free certificate from Thawte (Pronounced “thought” I believe), and have been quite happy with the processes and results.
It’s pretty easy – join on their site for free and you can almost immediately get a free certificate to sign & encrypt your e-mails. The only problem the name in the certificate is “Thawte Freemail Member” or similarly un-inspiring content. How could you trust that for security? Thankfully it is much easier to set that straight than it used to be (in Australia anyway).
To get the certificate to contain your real name you must first prove you are who you say you are – by presenting your indentifying credentials in person to a notary. They will then assert that you aren’t fibbing about your identity and bingo, you get to have your real name in the certificate. Easy. Assuming you can visit the notary in person.
When I started with this several years ago, there were approx. 10 notaries in Australia; all of them in Sydney. Fat lot of good that did anyone. 😐 But wait, Thawte actually sent one of their reps over from South Africa on a Notary Roadshow and I was lucky enough to get my identity verified (Hmm, perhaps I was confused? ;)). They actually gave me (and everyone else during that roadshow) enough trust points in their system to enable me to fill the gaps and become a local notary in their “Web Of Trust”.
Now, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Thawte notaries in Australia and now CPAs, Attourney’s, and the neigbour’s cat can notarise you (Ok, so that cat might be stretching it 😀 ).
If you need extra points for your Thawte cert, feel free to contact me here and I’ll be glad to help. I might charge you for a cup of coffee though…