How can your business leverage the power of digital signatures?

written by Ken Wanjohi
digital signatures
"...information or any other matter shall be authenticated by affixing a signature or that any document shall be signed or bear the signature of any person, then, notwithstanding anything contained in that law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information is authenticated by means of an advanced electronic signature affixed in such manner as may be prescribed by the Minister..."
Business law (amendment) bill 2019
Signed by uhuru kenyatta

The year is March 2020 and President Uhuru Kenyatta has finally signed the Business Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019 into law. The law has amended the Kenya Information and Communication Act to allow electronic authentication and signing of documents. What does this mean for your business? follow this series to understand how digital signatures work and how you can leverage their power in your business. First, lets understand how they work.

Introduction to digital signatures

digital signatures

An

Overview

in the past, the authenticity of many legal, financial, and other documents was done by the presence of an authorized handwritten signature, this method was prone to forgery hence the need for digital signatures was realized to authenticate documents.

What is a Digital Signature?

-A digital signature is nothing but an attachment to any piece of electronic information, which represents the content of the document and the identity of the owner of that document uniquely

Motivation behind Digital signatures

-To provide Authenticity, Integrity and Non-repudiation to electronic documents.

-To use the Internet as the safe and secure medium for e-Commerce and e-Governance

Basic Requirements

1)Private Key

The private key is one which is accessible only to the signer. It is used to generate the digital signature which is then attached to the message.

2)Public Key

The public key is made available to all those who receive the signed messages from the sender. It is used for verification of the received message

3)Digital signature certificate

-A subscriber of the private key and public key pair makes the public key available to all those who are intended to receive the signed messages from the subscriber.
-But in case of any dispute between the two sides, there must be some entity with the receiver which will allow the receiver of the message to prove that the message was sent by the subscriber of the key pair. This can be done with the Digital Signature Certificate.

digital signatures
digital signatures

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital signatures

Advantages

  • Authentication
    Identification of the person that signs
    Digital signatures provide for a sure way to prove the true identity of a document signer
  • Integrity of data
    Every change will be detected.
    this ensures for integrity of data as any defects can be detected
  • Non repudiation
    Because the author cannot be denied of his work (he created and sent).
    Document signer has proof of content ownership
  • Intergration
    Able to integrate with O365 apps
    digital signatures are able to integrate with O365 applications making their deployment very fast

Disadvantages

  • Expiry
    short shelf life.
    In this era of fast technological advancements, many of these tech products have a short shelf life.
  • Certificates cost
    one has to buy digital certificates.
    In order to effectively use digital signatures, both senders and recipients may have to buy digital certificates.
  • Software Cost
    Parties must buy verification software at a cost
    To work with digital certificates, senders and recipients must buy verification software at a cost
  • Offline verification
    Cannot be used offline
    since it requires a digital platform, this cannot be implemented offline

Now that you have a basic understanding of how digital signatures work, follow my next blog in this series on how your business can leverage the power of digital signatures.

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