Thawte : Java Glossary


Thawte is a company that issues digital certificates. It sells several types including web server, Netscape Java application code signing and Internet Explorer Java application code signing. It sometimes takes months to jump through all the hoops to get one. I suggest you start the process early in your development cycle if you will need any certificates. Thawte is based in South Africa. I found it exceedingly reluctant to answer phone calls or email. Their certificates are cheaper than Verisign’s. Unfortunately Verisign bought them out in 2000-02, so this state of affairs won’t last long.

Initially each type of certificate had different properties aimed at the different browsers — MS Authenticode with Authenticode x509 extensions aimed at IE (Internet Explorer) applications, Netscape Object Signing with Netscape specific extensions for Java meant to run with the Netscape/Java version 1.1 or later plug-in and Java 2 certs aimed at the Java version 1.2 or later plug-in ( Java version 1.3 signing tools).

If you buy a Thawte Microsoft Authenticode X.509 certificate, you can turn it into a Netscape Jar signing certificate, or a Sun Jar signing certificate.

Java 2 certs are based on the DSA (Digital Signature Algorithm) crypto algorithm and are thus not compatible with Netscape and MS codesigning tools. A Java 2 cert used in conjunction with the tools provided by  Java version 1.3 will enable you to sign code.

For Java 2 / Plugin 1.2 you’d need the Java 2 certs and Java version 1.3.Java version 1.2 or later does not support Thawte cert chains — the top level DSA CA (Certificate Authority) root is signed by Thawte top level RSA (Rivest, Shamir and Adelman) root and Java version 1.2 or later cannot verify the signature.

The Thawte Root code signing certificate was inadvertently omitted from  Java version 1.5 beta. You can download a copy and install it in your cacerts.. See updating root certificates for details.

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