Digital Signature Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Digital signatures are comprised of a series of algorithms and mathematical constructs that ensure the authenticity and verifiability of a person signing a specific document. The reliance on digital signatures continues to increase as virtual work teams, the development of automated contract management, compliance, financial reporting and advanced workflows in the fields of financial services continues to grow (Keenan, 2005). The intent of this analysis is to define the properties and usage of digital signatures, evaluate how legal digital signatures are to stand up in court, and explain the security challenges of digital signatures as well.

Properties and Usage of Digital Signatures

The foundational technology elements of digital signatures are predicated on mathematical algorithms used for supporting advanced asymmetric cryptography including the option of repudiation and non-repudiation (Borasky, 1999). These two areas of repudiation and non-repudiation are essential for ensuring the authenticity and veracity of the person(s) signing are in fact who they say they are (Levin, 2007). Additional properties of digital signatures include private key and cryptographic verification using protocols specifically designed for this purpose (Keenan, 2005). The cryptographic algorithms used must be compatible with the key generation, signing and signature verifying algorithms to ensure digital signatures perform as a common foundation for document security and validation. The area of key generation is one that has seen the greatest number of patents as many enterprise software, messaging and platform providers all look to create a proprietary advantage in their software using this technique (Levin, 2007).

These properties taken together can be used to affix and protect all forms of electronic communication including e-mails, digitally-created documents and increasingly, web pages themselves (Levin, 2007). Attaching digital signatures and ensuring their accuracy using key generation and key cryptography techniques relies on a specific series of algorithm responses form the send to also ensure verification and authentication of transactions (Keenan, 2005). A unique key must be created for each transaction using an encrypted algorithm that exactly matches up to the specific keys, creating a verif8ied connection, opening the document up for signature (Borasky, 1999).

State-of-the-art digital signature systems have very advanced authentication systems that include e-mail authentication, access code authentication that checks a person's ability to provide a share secret or passphrase, identification check using advanced authentication techniques, support for federated authentication that supports algorithms for other authentication platforms and two-factor biometric authentication as well (Levin, 2007). These features taken together allow for shared contract management, compliance and financial reporting workflows across a diverse base of organizations.

Digital Signatures' Legal Ability To Stand Up In Court

There continues to be much debate regarding the legality of digital signatures throughout the accounting, finance and compliance-driven industries that are increasingly relying on them for cost and time savings. The need to produce digitally-based contracts, agreements and reporting to better…

Sources Used in Document:

Bibliography

Borasky, D.V. (1999). Digital signatures: Secure transactions or standards mess? Online, 23(4), 47-50.

Keenan, C. (2005). Digital signatures: Worth the paper they're written on? Community

Banker, 14(11), 20.

Levin, R. (2007). Digital signatures - coming soon to a document near you. AIIM E - Doc Magazine, 21(6), 24-25.

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