Press Releases

First Direct Turns to VeriSign to Build Trust with Online Customers

LONDON – February 19, 2008first direct's growing base of Internet banking customers can now conduct business with increased confidence, thanks to advanced solutions from VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), the leading provider of Internet infrastructure for the networked world.

A division of HSBC Bank plc, first direct is the UK's premier online bank. The company is protecting its banking Web sites with VeriSign® Extended Validation (EV) Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates. EV SSL allows first direct to provide customers using high-security browsers, such as Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), with immediate, visual confirmation that they have reached a legitimate first direct Internet banking Web site.

When a Web site uses an EV SSL Certificate to identify itself, browsers such as IE7 display easily understood visual cues to provide tangible assurance of a site's authenticity. The address bar turns green, a lock icon appears next to the address, and a new field appears to the right of the URL in the browser. This field contains the name of the organisation that owns the site as well as the security provider that issued the certificate, such as VeriSign.

At the start of February 2008, 50% of first direct's 885,000 Internet banking customers use Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, which means they will see the reassuring green address bar as soon as they access the Internet Banking log on page.

"Sophisticated phishing scams and stories of online fraud can create doubt and concerns for internet users," said Jonathan Etheridge, head of e-futures at first direct. "To reassure first direct's customers that we continue to provide a safe banking experience on the Internet, we have implemented VeriSign Extended Validation SSL across our secure sites. This enhanced protection will help maintain a relationship of trust with our customers, and is a further step in our fight against online fraud."

Seeing the green address bar together with confirmation of the bank name and the certificate issuer, in this case VeriSign, gives first direct's customers confidence that they are visiting a genuine Web site and so helps to build trust —an invaluable asset for any bank. More than one in three of first direct's customers join because of personal recommendation.

Since one of the biggest risks in banking online is identity theft, Internet security awareness group Get Safe Online ( urges consumers to not be fooled by impostors. Fraudsters send emails that look like they come from a bank or other trusted organisations and contain links to fake Web sites.

VeriSign EV SSL Certificates make it easier for consumers to follow Get Safe Online's advice by helping to distinguish between fraudulent Web sites and genuine sites.

Jonathan Etheridge commented, "The traditional padlock symbol enabled on our Web site by VeriSign's SSL Certificates has been a key part of the interne banking experience for our customers for many years. VeriSign's EV SSL takes this to a new level on our Internet banking and partner sites."

first direct pioneered the 24-hour banking revolution 18 years ago when it launched as the UK's first telephone bank. Having successfully transferred its service formula onto the Internet, over 70 percent of first direct's customer contacts and 40 percent of its sales are now made online. "Internet users must be able to trust the sites they visit and the businesses with whom they share sensitive personal data," said Tim Callan, vice president of SSL product marketing at VeriSign. "VeriSign EV SSL Certificates help maintain that trust 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is encouraging that first direct has taken this step to ensure that its customers are protected from the threat of identity theft online."

As the most respected and trusted SSL authority on the Web, VeriSign is the EV SSL Certificate provider of choice for more than 2,500 Internet domains representing greater than 75 percent of the entire EV SSL Certificate market worldwide. In fact, over 93 percent of the Fortune 500 – and the world's 40 largest banks – rely on some form of VeriSign SSL Certificate authentication.

About VeriSign

VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), operates digital infrastructure services that enable and protect billions of interactions every day across the world's voice, video and data networks. Additional news and information about the company is available at

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Statements in this announcement other than historical data and information constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause VeriSign's actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainty of future revenue and profitability and potential fluctuations in quarterly operating results due to such factors as the inability of VeriSign to successfully develop and market new products and services and customer acceptance of any new products or services, including VeriSign's Extended Validation SSL Certificates and solutions, the possibility that VeriSign's announced new services may not result in additional customers, profits or revenues; and increased competition and pricing pressures. More information about potential factors that could affect the company's business and financial results is included in VeriSign's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. VeriSign undertakes no obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release.

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