Entrust: Digital signature plays key role in secure ID

At an event held in Toronto on Thursday, Entrust Technologies Inc., along with a group of its partners, spoke to customers regarding the importance of securing their private information.

According to the Dallas-based software and security services company, it has partnered with Austin, Tex.-based Waveset Technologies Inc., a provider of secure identities management solutions, to offer customers a new level of security. The new solution, which was released to the public last month, will use a variety of applications, including digital signatures, to ensure that sensitive or confidential information such as corporate e-mail can’t be tampered with.

Ian Curry, chief marketing officer at Entrust said that securing e-mail in this manner is important because decisions may otherwise be made from unreliable information.

During his presentation at the Entrust event, Curry explained that in this age, when it is possible to receive spam mail from our own e-mail addresses, it is also possible for employees or business partners to mistake the phoney address they see in their inboxes as correspondence from that of a reliable source. That can lead to decisions being made based on the corrupt information contained in that message.

He added, “if you are making business decisions based on information, it’s important to know who is sending the e-mail.”

According to Entrust, the solution to this problem is the digital signature. If an e-mail bearing a digital signature was corrupted in transit, the recipient would be informed immediately by a message stating that the e-mail had been altered by someone other that the sender. For this reason, Curry said the digital signature is a must for every organization.

“[The digital signature] is incredibly valuable technology. There is no other way to replace the hand-based signature in the electronic world…because what you end up with is a secure piece of data that represents the transaction that binds the signer to that piece of data,” Curry said. “You can store that piece of data in a back-end server in a database and you can call it up any time and verify those signatures. [From this] you know two things. You know who signed that piece of data and you also know that the data hasn’t changed since it was signed. Those are two incredibly important business concepts: You need to know who signed stuff and you need to know that nobody has tampered with it after it was signed.”

Curry added that, in some ways, the digital signature has a leg up on the more traditional methods of doing business.

“In the paper world, if somebody could sign a contract and somebody [else] could switch pages out, that’s obviously not a very good thing from an integrity perspective. That’s impossible to do when you have a digital signature. Nobody can tamper with any part of that signed data. If you change even one piece of data that was digitally signed, the digital signature fails when it comes to verify, and you know something’s wrong,” Curry said.

E-business services provider Teranet Inc., based in Toronto, was on hand during the event to talk about its history with Entrust and to discuss the different Entrust security solutions the company uses.

Don Fusco, channel manager at Teranet said that secure technology like the digital signature has saved many of his clients time and money.

According to Fusco, many of Teranet’s clients are real estate lawyers who, traditionally, have had to spend much of their time at land registry offices while verifying or closing deals.

Now, with the digital signature along with the company’s Teraview gateway application – an application that runs on the layers desktop and provides remote access to land registry files – “lawyers won’t have to leave their offices to register documents. They can do everything from their office and save a heck of a lot of time,” Fusco said.

Bill Conner, chairperson, president and CEO of Entrust, was also on hand to speak to customers. He took the opportunity to ensure the room that the concerns the company has heard from customers over the past year have been dealt with.

He added that Entrust hired a third party to survey the its clients in order to gain feedback.

“We’ve improved dramatically according to you, but much is still expected,” Conner said during his presentation at the event. “While we’ve improved dramatically, we still have a long way to go to meet all [our customers] needs in all areas,” he added.

Conner said that much of the feedback Entrust heard over the past year has to do with the complaint that the company’s technology was hard to deploy and hard to use.

He also said that customers have labelled Entrust as being a “technology arrogant company.” After reviewing the customer feedback, Conner said Entrust is taking a more directed and focused approach towards its solutions and capabilities.

Entrust can be found online at www.entrust.ca. Teranet can be found online at www.teranet.ca.