|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2010)|
|Industry||Internet security, Public key infrastructure|
|Key people||President & CEO: Eddy Nigg|
StartCom offers the free (for personal use) Class 1 X.509 SSL certificate "StartSSL Free", which works for webservers (SSL/TLS) as well as for E-mail encryption (S/MIME). It also offers Class 2 and 3 certificates as well as Extended Validation Certificates, where a comprehensive validation (with costs) is mandatory.
In June, 2011, the company suffered a network breach which resulted in StartCom suspending issuance of digital certificates and related services for several weeks. The attacker was unable to use this to issue certificates (and StartCom was the only breached provider, of six, where the attacker was blocked from doing so).
The "StartCom Certificate Policy & Practice Statements" document §220.127.116.11 is explicit that the Class 1 (free) certificates are for non-commercial uses only. The previous version of the CPS did not include this restriction.
The StartSSL certificate is included by default in Mozilla Firefox 2.x and higher, in Apple Mac OS X since version 10.5 (Leopard), all Microsoft operating systems since 24 September 2009, and Opera since 27 July 2010. Since Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Internet Explorer use the certificate store of the operating system, all major browsers include support for StartSSL certificates.
Limitations of StartSSL Free
While certificates are free for certain uses, there are limitations imposed unless an upgrade is purchased:
- One-year certificate validity (new certificate can be issued for free at any time).
- One domain plus one subdomain name per certificate (e.g. example.com, www.example.com).
- No commercial use
- Certificate revocation requires a fee
Response to heartbleed
StartCom's policy is to charge $25 for each revoked certificate, and it refused to waive this fee in lieu of certificates compromised due to Heartbleed, though some paying customers were granted a single free revocation.    
Customers have reported  with StartSSL infrastructure, a certificate must be revoked before a new certificate can be generated, and as StartSSL does not state how long it takes to revoke and reissue a certificate, a site can be inaccessible securely for an undetermined amount of time, with one customer reporting about 5 hours of downtime.
Concerns have been expressed over StartSSL's arbitrary and inconsistent policies and poor customer service.
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