Regaining Control of the User Experience when SSL Root Certificates are not Recognised by Browsers

(Originally published in isigmaglobal.com)

So, Browsers Scare your Users by Saying your SSL Certificates Suck, hmmm?

Yup, we all know SSL is the way to go when protecting your site’s traffic from the bad guys, and it is not that difficult to set up. But what happens when the browsers don’t have pre-installed CA root certificates for the issuer of your SSL certificates? They tend to present very scary messages. Some versions of Internet Explorer heartily recommend users to get away from your site as quickly as possible, lest they be eaten by evil monsters (well, not exactly, but it has a similar effect).

Scare tactics may work well for browser manufacturers, so that certificate issuers are willing to make their certificates recognised and pre-installed in these browsers (or OS) releases. This process might involve some payment to the browser’s manufacturer… (warning: this is my personal unproven claim… call me suspicious if you wish).

In any case, once the user clicks on a link to your secure SSL-protected HTTPS site, funnily enough, the browser’s alarm messages may make it appear as a more insecure choice than using HTTP. What the …?

It looks like you don’t have control over the user’s experience… or do you?
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