Safari 3.2 Adds Extended Certificates

After updating to the new version of Safari, version 3.2 I really did not notice any changes. Then at one point I connected to and saw the words “Microsoft Corporation” in the upper right-hand corner next to the SSL padlock. I realized that Apple had added support for Extended SSL Certificates to this new version.

I returned to the site but could not make the green text reappear. I tried other sites like my bank and still could not find any other sites that used this feature. Next I tried PayPal which of course has this feature turned on.

I think the green text will help some users be more sure that they are on the right site. There are apparently other anti-phishing features in this new version that I hope to not have to try out. I also think this green text feature will serve as a differentiator between the little guys and the big guys.

It used to be that there was a cost of entry to have a web site. Just having a web site inferred that you were legit. Today anyone can have a web site set up for $2. The next differentiation came in the form of appearance but with the advent of templates and CMS servers, it is really easy to have a professional looking web site. Even then you could look at the SSL certificate and be assured that the web site must be a real company because they could afford to pay for an SSL certificate. Alas SSL has become easier and less expensive.

Now the question is will the cost of extended SSL certificates be seen by larger companies as a value and see by consumers as a sign of legitimacy. Or is all this technology wasted on the average user and all that really matters is a good phishing blacklist?

Why the Vanity Web Site is Obsolete

When the Internet craze first started back in the mid 90’s I was one of the first to snap up domain names for my friends and family. Everybody needs a web site, right? For a time that was fine. Web sites were primitive and hard to maintain. Search engines and threats were also primitive. During this time I ran my own web server. I maintained static and dynamic web sites. Being able to serve database content out of a database is a real plus. I wrote content management systems to maintain that content. Later the tools caught up with my needs and I switched over to Drupal for CMS.

When it comes to self publishing there’s a real privacy concern. You have two options. You can make everything public and have to censor every thing you post. This approach works well for organizations but not well for individuals. The second option is to make everything private and require your intended audience to log in to see. This approach breaks down because authentication is such a hassle.

The hope is that something like OpenID will come along and make it easy to identify your intended audience and give them access to the content that you want them to see. I say like OpenID because as it stands now, OpenID does not work. When I say it does not work I am not talking about the technical aspects but rather the practical ones. An authentication system needs to be so simple than anyone can use it. The Internet is so balkanized today. Users have to register with each site they touch and are giving up there personal data without consideration for the privacy issues.

The Social Networks offer some hope but with a warning. These are similar to the communities on AOL and CompuServe of the 90’s. People are coming together to form these virtual communities. Whether its World of Warcraft, Wii, Digg, Facebook or MySpace, these communities are strong. Unlike the AOL’s of the past, the content on these networks is oftern very public. The hard decision is to decide which communities to join and how to participate. A buddy of mine recently commented that you would never find him on one of those web site. He is a radio personality and his online presence is a valuable asset. Anything that could damage that puts his livelihood at risk. He said “pages like Facebook get people in my business fired and both a Patriots cheerleader and a Longhorn offensive lineman have both been dismissed for their Facebook pages in the last 36 hours.”

Think before you post. Don’t post anything that you would not want your boss or your family to read. Another way to put it is “don’t be stupid”. When MySpace first started getting popular I checked it out. I was appalled by the vulgarity and lewdness that was rampant on the site. And that was just from people I knew. That experience colored my view of the other sites. Fortunately they are not all that bad. MySpace seems to be the worst. It has a culture of unstructured self-promotion that is better suited for a rock band than a high school student.

Other sites are better structured and have a more mature culture. Facebook started out as a site for college students but has expanded. Its focus is on getting in contact with other people. It allows users to specify their college and high school. This allows other users to browse through profiles by school and year. LinkedIn is what I like to call Facebook for grown-ups. Its focus is on professional relationships rather than personal ones. You cannot browse by high school but you can post what is essentially a résumé online. You can recommend the work of other people in your network.

Sites like ebay, Flickr and Digg at first glance seem to be focused on something other than social networking. Do not be fooled. These sites are first and foremost all about the social network. You would not dare buy something off someone on ebay who had negative feedback. Someone was actually sued recently for giving negative feedback on ebay. Anything you post on any of these sites be seen by anyone.

At this point I am unsure how to use the social web sites but they are an alternative to a personal web site.