VeriSign: Wikis


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VeriSign, Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQVRSN)
Founded 1995
Headquarters 487 E Middlefield Rd Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
Key people CEO: Mark McLaughlin, Chairman: D. James Bidzos
Industry Internet, Communications
Revenue $1.5 billion USD (2007)
Net income $-140 million USD (2007)
Employees 3,300

VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQVRSN) is an American company based in Mountain View, California that operates a diverse array of network infrastructure, including two of the Internet's thirteen root nameservers, the generic top-level domains for .com and .net. VeriSign also provides a variety of security services ranging from digital certificates, and managed PKI to two-factor authentication. The company groups all of these functions under the banner of 'trusted Internet infrastructure' services.

The company's former payment processing service was sold to eBay in 2005.[1]



VeriSign headquarters in Mountain View

VeriSign was founded in 1995 as a spin-off of the RSA Security certification services business. The new company received licenses to key cryptographic patents held by RSA and a time limited non-compete agreement. The new company served as a certificate authority (CA) — a role it still fulfills — and its initial mission was "providing trust for the Internet and Electronic Commerce through our Digital Authentication services and products." VeriSign now has more than 3,000,000 certificates in operation for everything from military to financial services and retail applications, making it the largest CA behind the encryption and authentication on the Internet, which most people recognize as the small padlock icon in their Web browser when shopping online. VeriSign is well known for the VeriSign Secured Seal, which is an outward expression of a Web site's authentication and encryption commonly posted to VeriSign SSL Certificate customers' Web sites.

The company held an Initial Public Offering on January 30, 1998 for US$14 a share. The pre-IPO investors included RSA Data Security Inc., Bessemer Ventures, Kleiner-Perkins, VISA International, Ameritech, Mitsubishi, Security Dynamics, and Fischer International. Along the way, VeriSign broadened its portfolio of "infrastructure services" by acquiring a number of additional businesses, including SecureIT in 1998 (from which it derived its Security Services division), Network Solutions in 2000 (from which it derived the domain name business, and later spun off the customer-facing 'registrar' component), Illuminet in 2001 (which marked the company's first foray into telecommunications), Guardent in 2003 (which improved its managed security offering), and Jamba! in 2004 (which is called Jamster! in English-speaking countries and consists of downloadable digital content for mobile phones). VeriSign made its presence in India by acquiring Unimobile in 2004.

As of 2005, VeriSign takes in more than $1 billion in annual revenue ($1.66 billion for FY 2005) with more than 4000 employees worldwide. The business is divided into two large divisions: Internet Services and Communications Services..


The Internet Services division includes Naming & Directory Services, which houses the domain name registry for .com and .net, as well as other DNS-related services, and RFID services; and Security Services, which spans a diverse set of capabilities. Managed Security Services includes managed security services (firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, vulnerability protection, etc.), global security consulting (assessments, design, compliance, certification), email security (anti-spam, anti-virus), strong authentication (tokens and remote access validation), as well as the original digital certificate/SSL business including the most recent Extended Validation (High Assurance) SSL Certificates. VeriSign claims[2] to handle 32 billion domain name system (DNS) inquiries daily, 35% of North American e-commerce, and encryption for the "majority" of secure Web sites.


On November 14, 2007, during VeriSign Analyst Day presentations, VeriSign announced that it would focus on its core businesses of Naming Services, Web Certificates, and Identity Protection Services by divesting (selling or shutting down) much of the rest of its portfolio.[3] Published reports indicate that the company may end up divesting up to 12 of its 15 business units,[4] eliminating half of its 4500 employees.[5]

On March 2, 2009, the firm announced it was selling its Communications Services Group for $230M to TNS, Inc.[6]


In 2002, VeriSign was sued for domain slamming – transferring domains from other registrars to themselves by making the registrants believe they were merely renewing their domain name. Although they were found not to have broken the law, they were barred from suggesting that a domain was about to expire or claim that a transfer was actually a renewal.[7]

VeriSign has also faced some public scrutiny regarding its relationship with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and DNS. In September 2003, VeriSign introduced a service called Site Finder, which redirected Web browsers to a search service when users attempted to go to nonexistent .com or .net domain names. ICANN asserted that VeriSign had overstepped the terms of its contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which in essence grants VeriSign the right to operate the DNS for .com and .net, and VeriSign shut down the service. Subsequently, VeriSign filed a lawsuit against ICANN in February 2004, seeking to gain clarity over what services it could offer in the context of its contract with ICANN. The claim was moved from federal to California state court in August 2004 and is still pending.[8] In late 2005 VeriSign and ICANN announced a proposed settlement which defines a process for the introduction of new registry services in the .com registry. The documents concerning these settlements are available here. The terms of this proposed settlement are themselves contentious, and have received widespread criticism. The ICANN comments mailing list archive documents some of these. Additionally VeriSign was involved in the matter decided by the Ninth circuit.[9]

In other negotiations with ICANN, VeriSign gave up operation of the .org top-level domain in 2003 in return for continued rights over .com, the largest domain with more than 34 million registered domain names. In mid-2005, the existing contract for the operation of .net expired and five companies, including VeriSign, bid for management of it. VeriSign's bid was backed by numerous IT and telecom heavyweights including Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems, MCI and others, which all asserted that VeriSign had a perfect record operating .net. They proposed VeriSign continue to manage the .net DNS due to its critical importance as the domain underlying numerous "backbone" network services. On June 8, 2005 ICANN announced that VeriSign had been approved to operate .net until 2011. More information on the .net bidding process is available here.


  • Netscape Server IDs ship June 1995
  • Secure Email launched January 1996
  • VeriSign Japan launched with NTT February 1996
  • Code Signing launch with Microsoft March 1996
  • US DOC approves Global ID to enable strong cryptographic software export June 1997
  • SecureIT acquisition announced July 1998
  • Managed PKI service version 4.0 October 1998
  • Offers free Y2k testing certs November 1998
  • Wireless PKI offering launched December 1999
  • Thawte acquisition announced December 1999
  • Signio acquisition announced February 2000
  • Network Solutions acquired June 2000
  • acquired October 2000
  • Acquired eNIC Corporation and the .cc registry for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands from Brian Cartmell on August 31, 2001
  • Illuminet acquired December 2001
  • HO Systems acquisition February 2002
  • Network Solutions registrar sold November 2003
  • Guardent acquisition announced December 2003
  • Acquired Unimobile in March 2004
  • Jamba! acquired June 2004
  • LightSurf acquisition announced January 2005
  • R4 Global Solutions acquisition announced May 2005
  • Lightbridge PrePay acquisition completed June 2005
  • iDefense acquisition announced July 2005
  • Moreover Technologies acquisition announced October 2005
  • acquisition announced October 2005
  • Acquisition of VeriSign's Payment Gateway assets by eBay(Paypal) announced October 2005[1]
  • Kontiki acquisition announced March 2006
  • VeriSign To Acquire GeoTrust Announcement May 2006[10]
  • inCode acquisition announced November 2006
  • VeriSign Introduces Extended Validation SSL Certificates in December 2006
  • Stratton Sclavos steps down as CEO and board member; replaced by William (Bill) Roper May 29, 2007[11]
  • VeriSign announces divestment of much of the Communications Services group among other business units November 2007
  • VeriSign sells Digital Band Management Services to Melbourne IT for US$50m [12]
  • Lee Huggins steps down as Executive VP at Savannah office on October 30, 2008.
  • William (Bill) Roper steps down as CEO; replaced by Jim Bidzos July 3, 2008,[13] [14]

DNS control

VeriSign has a very important place in the Internet's DNS infrastructure. VeriSign is the authoritative registry operator for two of the most important top-level domains, .com and .net. It is also the contracted registry operator for the country code top-level domains .cc (Cocos Islands) and .tv (Tuvalu). In addition, VeriSign is the primary technical subcontractor for the .edu, .name, and .jobs domains for their respective registry operators which are non-profit organizations; in this role they maintain the zone files for these particular domains and host the domains from their domain servers. Registry operators are often a "wholesale" role; there are many "retail" domain name registrars which actually sell .com and other domain names to consumers.

VeriSign is the sole maintainer of the internet's root zone file and they process all changes to it. The authorities (such as ICANN) in charge of the various top level domains request changes to the root zone file which must be approved by the US Department of Commerce. If approved, the Commerce Department then instructs VeriSign to make the change. Changes to the root zone were originally distributed via the A root server, but now they are distributed to all 13 servers via a separate distribution system which VeriSign maintains. VeriSign operates two of the Internet's root nameservers, A and J. The other 11 are operated by various institutions and authorities. It is the only root server operator that runs more than one server. The J root servers are anycasted.

VeriSign's Naming and Directory division is headquartered in Sterling, VA in the Loudoun Tech Center. They lease an entire building in that complex which in addition the their offices also houses two mirror data centers which contain their registry services as well as instances of their ATLAS system and root servers. These two data centers also mirror to a third data center located in a separate building in the Broad Run technology park near Dulles Airport. These two facilities are highly secure and are considered critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security which affords them special government protection.

External links

Official websites

News and financial reports


  1. ^ a b Gonsalves, Antone (October 10, 2005). "EBay To Buy VeriSign Online Payment Service". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  2. ^ "About VeriSign - VeriSign, Inc.". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  3. ^ (2007-11-14). "VeriSign Refines Strategic Direction to Focus on Internet Infrastructure". Press release. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  4. ^ "VeriSign looking to divest units: report". 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  5. ^ "VeriSign to divest slower units, sees staff halved". 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  6. ^ "VeriSign Sells Communications Services Group". 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  7. ^ VeriSign slammed for domain renewal scam
  8. ^ "Litigation Documents". 2007-03-26. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  9. ^ "Kremen v. Network Solutions, Inc." (PDF). 2003-07-25.$file/0115899.pdf?openelement. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  10. ^ Miller, Rich (2006-05-17). "VeriSign To Buy GeoTrust, Combining Top SSL Providers". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  11. ^ VeriSign Board of Directors Elects William A. Roper, Jr. as Chief Executive Officer and Edward A. Mueller as Chairman from VeriSign, Inc
  12. ^ "Melbourne IT buys VeriSign's DBMS". 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  13. ^ VeriSign Names Founder Jim Bidzos to Executive Chairman, President and CEO from VeriSign, Inc
  14. ^ Oral history interview with James Bidzos

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