What to do now that free StartSSL digital signatures for RB-PDF transcripts are being discontinued

In August 2016, we announced that RB-PDF transcripts could be signed for free on reporterbase.com. You and your reporters could use any digital signature you prefer, free or paid, but we recommended StartSSL, due to their zero cost, ease of installation, and multiple-browser application.

However, we have recently learned that StartCom, the Certification Authority (CA) that issues StartSSL’s free digital IDs, has been “de-certified” by the majority of browser makers. StartCom has been unable to regain the trust of these browser makers, so they decided to no longer issue digital IDs after December 31, 2017. They will provide validation services for two years from January 1, 2018, but starting 2020, all remaining valid certificates will be revoked.

In addition, we have learned that Google Chrome plans to distrust Symantec, GeoTrust, and Thawte security certificates.

These changes are the result of ever-improving security standards, which require CAs to evolve or stop offering security certificates. StartSSL decided on the latter.

How this affects you & your reporters

Fortunately, all existing digital IDs issued by StartCom will be valid for 2 years from date of issuance. However, new IDs will not be issued as of January 1, 2018.

If you or your reporters do not have a digital ID after the end of this year, you will need to get one from a different source, either free or paid.

We recommend Comodo Secure Email Certificates. The only problem we have with this solution is that they only work with IE and Firefox browsers. When we find a better long-term solution, we will let you know.

For more information, visit the Team RB news page or reporterbase.com or contact RB Support.

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