What is digital signing?

Signing is a cryptographic technique that was designed to validate the integrity and authenticity of a document, file or e-mail. Among other things, signing is used to secure comminucative functions or to irrevokably connect the verified identity of the publisher to their software. The sender or developer offers the guarantee that they are the author or publisher when using a signing certificate.

Origin

In 1976, cryptographers Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman first spoke of signing. Together, they developed an algorithm that could be used to send private messages over public channels by encrypting them, a technique that was previously only known by the army. From 1988, signing was embraced by the professional world and used by developers, lawyers and multinationals.
 





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E-mail signature


E-mail signing or digital ID's are used to protect and validate communication. It encrypts e-mail messages, only allowing the intended recipient to read it. There are personal signing certificates which can validate an individual (person@domain.com). This type of digital identification will only be issued after a verification of the identity of the person placing the request. There are also certificates that are issued on a department- or organisation level (department@organisation.com). For these certificates, the identity of the company or organisation is verified.

After a successful validation, these certificates can be used to sign e-mail (S/MIME), Microsoft Office documents, or other electronic files.
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Code Signing


Code Signing certificates are digital data files that allow developers to sign their code and software. Users can verify who wrote the code and whether the software contains malware.

The Code Signing certificates are available as personal and organisational certificates. All certificates support the major development platforms and contain a timestamp service to ensure that the certificate does not expire.
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