Belgian notaries federation deploys nCipher digital signature tool

Source: nCipher

nCipher (LSE: NCH), a global leader in protecting critical enterprise data, announces that the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries has deployed nCipher's time stamping technology to ensure that digitally signed company registration documents are legally recognized and can be proved to be authentic.

By conducting the process of registering a new company online with electronic documentation the need to send paper documents back and forth for hand-written signatures is eliminated and the process of registering a new company in Belgium has now been dramatically reduced - from an average of 56 days to only three days.

Verifying and witnessing new company registrations is just one of the vital, legally binding functions provided by the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries (Fédération Royale du Notariat Belge, FRNB). To speed up their work and increase efficiency, the Belgium Ministry of Justice launched an initiative to create a secure infrastructure to replace hand-signed notarised paper documents and forms with digitally signed electronic documents that carry the same legal standing. Central to this initiative was the need to generate securely signed and time stamped digital documents that could not be tampered with and whose authenticity could be proven.

"Digital signatures provide a proven way to establish the authenticity of an electronic document, but for these documents to be of any legal value we need to be 100% sure of the point in time at which the document was digitally signed by one of our Notaries," says Jan Biets, program manager at FRNB. "The deployment of nCipher's Time Stamp Server means we can digitally sign and time stamp documents using a high-strength, tamper-resistant security appliance. Not only does this overcome the risks associated with software-based digital signing processes, but also provides an auditable and trusted record of date and time for all documents without relying on system clocks within host operating systems that can easily be altered."

The FRNB has built a national infrastructure that provides more than 1,200 regional Notaries with the technology to digitally sign and time stamp electronic documents. The signatures and time stamps provided by nCipher's Time Stamp Server (TSS) bind the documents and the information tthey contain to a secure official Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) source verified by the Belgium National Measurement Institute (NMI) which is impossible to falsify. nCipher's TSS also creates what is in effect a cryptographic digital fingerprint that freezes the content of the document at the exact moment it is signed so in the event that the document is changed the 'fingerprint' will also change making it immediately evident that the document has been tampered with.

"nCipher has a wealth of experience and leading-edge products in the area of time stamping and cryptographic key management that makes it practical for companies, even those in industry sectors not normally known for leading edge technology deployment, to utilize high-strength cryptographic security techniques for the first time," says Avia Dadon, product manager at nCipher. "The introduction and acceptance of secure, digitally signed and time stamped electronic documents is revolutionising the work of Notaries in Belgium, reducing both costs and workload. This is a critical public service and nCipher has delivered a secure system that provides the high levels of assurance necessary to protect the extremely high level of trust that has been placed in this service for centuries."

The nCipher TSS is fully compliant with the ETSI 102023 ETSI TS 101 861 policy requirements for time stamping authorities and that set the standard for the entire certificate issuing and time stamping procedures defined by the FRNB.

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