Thawte Certification, until recently a privately owned company, is the second-largest issuer of SSL certificates - required by companies that wish to let customers send them information securely online. An SSL certificate contains all the information required to let a Web browser set up a secure link with a web server at the other end of the connection, before sending sensitive information such as credit card details. The certificates are issued once Thawte have checked the company's existence and right to use the server name that they wish to secure.
Mark Shuttleworth set up Thawte, working out of his parents' garage just outside Cape Town. Now it's a thriving company with offices in South Africa and in the US, plus representatives in more than 20 countries worldwide (of whom Herald Information Systems is one). But the offer from Verisign, Thawte's main rival, was too tempting to resist, and Shuttleworth, just 26 years old, could now put his feet up and relax... but we don't think he will.