Security is a priority for private companies and government agencies, which make huge investments to secure electronic documentation. However, electronic documentation can be considered parallel to legal paperwork only on the affixation of a digital signature. A digital signature can be simply defined as an electronic signature unique to each person, which requires prior authorization, validation and application. It enables the reader to validate the identity of the sender, to prevent non-repudiation and to prevent modification of a signed document. Among other developers, Java J2ee Development is a trustworthy option to ensure complete security and performance for your digital signature.
1. What is a digital signature?
Keeping in with the earlier definition, a digital signature uses the standard format of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to associate a signer with a document in a recorded contract. A reader provides the PKI with a mathematical algorithm which generates keys, one being public and one private. The signer creates an electronic signature using their private key, which is always kept secure. The mathematical algorithm then creates new data matching the electronic signature and encrypting the data. The digital signature is marked with the time of its creation, and is considered invalid if the document changes after signing.
2. Benefits of using a digital signature
A digital signature, like other forms of technology, comes with a number of advantages. Thus, it also gives you an edge over lengthy paperwork and loss of time and money.
- a) High security – Security is of paramount importance, which is why developers use unique signing keys for every procedure. Your identity would be verified by a third party, which only allows you to use your private key. Similarly, the receiver would be assured of the authenticity of your signature on a document signed by you. A digitally signed document identifies you as the signatory, which is considered as a non-repudiation. Changes made to the digital certificate are quickly detected, which dissolves the importance of the created digital signature. Moreover, all the parties related would be notified of the change.
- b) Hash check – As mentioned above, parties would be informed if the digitally signed document is tampered with in any way. Documents sent by courier run the risk of loss or being tampered with unnoticed. If you open such a signed document, a hash check compares the content made when the document was signed to the present document. Any slight unauthorized change made to the document would show an error message. Though the hash check does allow authorized changes, it does inform the future reader if unauthorized changes have been made to the document.
- c) Reliable audit trail – As soon as the process of digital signature is completed, an audit trail would be sent to all the involved parties. Thus, the digitally signed document can now be tracked and located for security purposes. The registered information thus becomes a reference to check subsequent information in relation to the signing of documents and other confidential information. The audit trail report can also be produced later for audit purposes, like in case of a dispute.
- d) Time- and cost-effective – Digital signatures are required by companies to allow a faster approval process with digital efficiency. You are spared the costs and time required for printing, scanning, binding and document storage. Therefore, the overall signing contract process can be hugely speed up, which would lessen staff workload and budget. As a result, one can improve operational efficiency and increase competitiveness and service levels.
- e) Environmentally friendly – Due to digital efficiency, one can be assured of compliance assurance, reduced mitigation risk, data quality and proper long-term storage of files. Contrary to conventional methods of storage, digital signature is an environmentally friendly option as they save paper, reduce power consumption and less dependence on carbon-producing services required otherwise.
- f) Hassle-free procedure – The process of digital signature doesn’t require you to download or install any kind of hardware and software. One can easily create a digital signature on a personal computer, cell phone or Mac to sign their documents at your convenience.
- g) Universal legal compliance – Digital signatures comply with universal e-signature laws, which make them legally valid and binding as a legal document on paper. Most digital signature developers conform to ESIGN and UETA (USA), and Electronic Transactions Acts and with Europe’s EU VAT Directive among others.
- h) Third-party timestamp – Date and time regarding digital signatures could be easily manipulated over the local system clock. Therefore, one can use a third party timestamp for digital signatures, from a trusted standardized service. A timestamp also supports time-sensitive transactions and audits, with the same conditions of non-repudiation. Therefore, one can easily check the date and time of a digitally signed document using a third party timestamp that shows when the document was signed.
Thus, using a digital signature is far more convenient than the conventional method. However, do look for a trustworthy service such as the Java J2ee Development that ensures you a completely safe, reliable and efficient authorization, validation and application, performance.