QuEST – Qualified Electronic Signatures Tutorial

    QuEST will help project managers and architects to build solutions that integrate Electronic Signatures as they are regulated by the European Commission’s Directive on Electronic Signatures.
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        In the next few years, a lot of software developers will be involved in projects that will rely on electronic identity cards and electronic signatures for security. The European Commission Directive on Electronic Signatures, which was established in 1999, regulates the cross-border recognition and implementation of electronic signatures within the European Union. Although any signature cannot be denied legal validity simply because it is in electronic form on the grounds of the Directive, there is a certain type of electronic signature that is automatically considered by law as equivalent to the handwritten signature. This type of electronic signature is commonly called a "Qualified Electronic Signature". An organization that wants to use a Qualified Electronic Signature should, however, be clear on the purpose of these signatures and define their policy for use. This can be rather complex because it is a mixture of legal, technological and policy issues. It is this area that we want to demystify with our QuEST (Qualified Electronic Signature Tutorial) guidelines.

        QuEST examines Qualified Electronic Signatures from three important perspectives: legal, technology, and policy.

        Legal. Qualified Electronic Signatures are derived directly from European law and implemented today in all member states of the European Union. The legal perspective helps you to understand what is required to implement a solution that can create law-compliant signatures.

        Technology. A lot of people understand technology but Qualified Electronic Signatures is about PKI technology, cryptography, tamper-resistant hardware, etc. These are not the typical areas that most people are familiar with, but technical knowledge alone is not sufficient to understand this field. The capacity to understand legal issues and have the correct processes and procedures in place to comply with the legal requirements as well is important, and this is a very rare skill.

        Policy. In order to run an environment that enables Qualified Electronic Signatures, the necessary policies, processes and procedures that ensure the technology is implemented and operated appropriately in order to meet the legal requirements have to be in place. It is the policy aspects that “glue” the technology solution to the legal requirement.

        It is also important to explain how the legal aspects and the technology and policy aspects correlate with each other. The Matrix provides a good overview of how these issues fit together. It shows how the Directive maps to the European standards and how the different legal requirements can be implemented from a technology and policy point of view. Some of the typical questions you should raise and apply to the context of your project are presented in the Project Team Guide. Finally, we describe a Scenario, based on online betting, and show in a step-by-step manner how the project team applies QuEST. Which steps did they take? Which questions did they ask and how did they answer them in the context of their project.

    • Supported Operating System

      Windows 2000, Windows XP

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