Electronic Signature Tutorial

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IIntypedia – Encyclopedia of Information Security

It is a set of audiovisual material highly recommended to learn the basics of cryptography and computer security.

http://www.intypedia.com/

Electronic signature and digital certificates

Since the implementation of the Information Society in our country, the expansion and growth opportunities for the companies have not stopped of increasing.

The Chambers of Commerce, as representatives and defenders of corporate interests, are especially sensitive to the business opportunities generated as a result of the systematic use of ICT and the dissemination of the Information Society in the Spanish social and economic business world.

In this regard, the responsibility of the Chambers of Commerce is to provide confidence to businesses, both technical and functional in this new environment.

The commitment and desire to spread this new telematic culture between companies are the main reasons behind the project “Camerfirma Business Certificate”.

THE DIGITAL CERTIFICATES

The digital certificate could be defined as a unique identifier that enables its holder to be identified within the network to perform a set of specific operations (signing a document, access to restricted areas, identify themselves to an administration, etc.).

In that sense, digital certificates become an essential tool to ensure the authenticity of the issuer, as well as the integrity of information transmitted. Being mandatory not only the certification of companies, institutions and administrations but also their servers.

One of the most important aspects of this digital identification is the entity that issues the certificate, that is, once a company identifies itself within the network with a digital certificate, the other parties are assured that this company is really who they say because there is a trusted third party (the certificate authority) who gives faith (given the certificate) that is really who he claims to be.

Technically, the digital certificate is based on the use of a cryptographic key pair: a private key known only to the owner and a public key knowable by everyone. Both keys have a 1-to-1 link, but the public one cannot be deducted from the private one.

The mission of a Certification Authority is to link the public key with the identification data of the holder creating a digital certificate guaranteed by the Certification Authority itself.

THE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE

The digital certificate is the technical means that provides to the electronic data with elements of signer’s authentication, information integrity and no-repudiation of what was signed. That is, it comes to generating an environment in which communications and transactions are safe and reliable. For this, the Digital Certificate is based on three technology pillars:

  • Symmetric Cryptography: This mechanism uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the communication
  • Asymmetric Cryptography:This mechanism uses two keys: One key is public and may be known by all, and another that is private and will have to be guarded by its owner.
  • Hash function:It allows us to ensure that our communication has reached its destination without being modified, ie integrity. The Hash functions transform a message of arbitrary length into a fixed number of bits, so that two different messages generated two different hash sequences. So we will uniquely identify the original message.The message is treated with a HASH algorithm and encrypted lately with our private key, the result is a code of bits that is what we could electronic signature.

    The verification process will be the following one: Generate the Hash sequence of the received document, decode with sender’s public key and check that found both results are the same one.



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