Advanced signature

The advanced signature provides a higher level of security than the simple electronic signature and creates a perfect balance between security and usability, making this signature method very popular.

What is an advanced signature?

The term “advanced signature” is an abbreviation for “advanced electronic signature”, which is one of 3 signature standards in the European Union. In the following, we use this abbreviation for further explanation.

According to Article 26 of the eIDAS Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Union, the advanced signature is a signature that meets the following requirements:

(a) the advanced signature is uniquely linked to the signatory; b) it enables the identification of the signatory; (c) it has been created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can use with a high degree of confidence under his exclusive control; and d) is linked to the data signed by him in such a way that any subsequent modification of the same is detectable.

The advanced signature is a set of data attached to an electronic message, the purpose of which is to uniquely identify the signer as the originator of the message, as if it were a handwritten signature.

Due to its characteristics, the advanced signature adds security to the user’s electronic transactions, as it is possible to identify the signer. In this case, the advanced signature allows to guarantee the integrity of the signed content, means the signed content has not been changed or modified from the moment of its signing.

What is the difference between advanced signature and simple signature?

Signer identification is the main difference between simple signature (also known as simple electronic signature) and advanced signature. While the simple signature does not require the signer to be identified, this is an essential requirement for the advanced signature.

This difference is crucial when signing important contracts where large sums of money or risks are involved, in order to use yet an additional layer of security when signing.

What between advanced signature and qualified signature?

The qualified signature (also called qualified electronic signature) is an advanced signature, but it is created with a qualified electronic signature device that meets the specific requirements listed in the eIDAS regulation. The qualified signature is the highest level of electronic signature security. It is particularly complex and is therefore only used in very specific cases where a qualified signature is absolutely necessary. In the vast majority of cases, an advanced signature is completely sufficient.

For the qualified signature, there are precisely defined legal requirements on how the identity of the signatory is verified and the signature key is protected. Its legal effect is equivalent to that of a handwritten signature, while the other levels of the electronic signature have probative value. It is thus legally recognized in all member states of the European Union.

The qualified signature procedure uses the same security criteria as the advanced signature, but requires that the identity of the signer be verified beforehand and that the signature key be located in a qualified electronic signature creation device (QSCD).

Summary

When selecting the type of electronic signature, user-friendliness and security must be taken into account. The implementation of a qualified signature procedure should only be used in special cases, as this procedure is particularly complex. It is therefore up to you to decide whether security takes precedence over usability or whether a simple or advanced level of security is already more than adequate. In most cases, an advanced signature is a good middle ground between a high security standard and ease of use in the signature process.

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