Electronic signature

Digital signature

The "electronic signature" is one of the core components of many eGovernment solutions. The purpose that this component serves can be explained quite easily. Many application forms require the signature from the person filling it out, which until now had to be signed on the paper itself. With the changeover to electronic services, authenticating by signature has to be carried out electronically. There needs to be a method for adding an electronic signature to a document that provides adequate security, yet is still easy enough to use.

An electronic signature is not just a signature on paper that has been scanned in. It is a mathematical operation that is carried out automatically by the sender and recipient using two keys. Together, these keys form a unique pair. If both keys fit together, the recipient is ensured that the content is really from the person who sent the signature. For electronic signatures, the following aspects are important:

  • Authenticity: The message really comes from the given sender and the sender can be uniquely identified.
  • Integrity: Manipulation of the signature or the signed document can be detected immediately.

In addition to using an electronic signature, the document can also be electronically encrypted. Only the actual recipient of the document will be able to decrypt it and read its content. Which steps and technical devices are required in order to send documents with an electronic signature from work or home? First of all you will need a computer with an Internet connection and a card reader. The card reader can either be integrated into the computer itself or you can connect an external one to it. You need a card that has the digital signature certificate saved on its chip. You can even use one of the cards you already have in your wallet, such as your bank card or your social insurance eCard. These cards can be used as "citizen cards" for conducting transactions with public authorities over the Internet. The concept of the citizen card does not rely on a particular data storage medium.