Electronic signatures

In the last decade, the ability to transfer data electronically has developed enormously. One of the key problems in developing transfer technology is authenticating the web surfer – the identity of the specific person who has performed an action on the internet cannot be known. This inability to identify prevents innumerable entities from providing services via information transfer technology and thus many procedures are still “stuck”, cumbersome and bureaucratic.

Electronic signatures have existed for many years already, and in 2001 the Knesset even passed the Electronic Signature Law, which reduced the gap between the authorities from the legal aspect and the existing technology.

An electronic signature is an encrypted file attached to a message or document which allows identifying its sender and guarantees that the original content of the message or document has not been changed since being signed, and if it has been changed, the reader will receive a warning that the document is not complete compared to the original document that was signed.

Digital signatures are based on methodical theory and by using complex algorithms they prevent break-ins and/or changes to a document without the knowledge of the document signatory/reader.
How can we recognize a digitally signed file/message?
One must ensure that seal sign appears, which confirms that the message was signed electronically.

Electronic sealing has a number of unmistakable advantages as follows:

  • It cancels the need for paper and handwritten signatures, which leads to better efficiency and savings in time and resources, and also contributes significantly to the environment.
  • It prevents the bureaucratic foot-dragging which characterizes the handwritten signing procedures.
  • It solves the problems of phishing, which prevents authenticating a web surfer. By electronic signature, it is possible to submit national insurance documents, income tax reports, court files, documents to customs and VAT authorities, and perform banking transactions, etc.
  • It guarantees that the contents of a message are complete, and encrypts emails as well as important documents.
  • It identifies clients and prevents situations where a client denies that an instruction/transaction was performed.

Certificate authority

A certificate authority is a company which has received Justice Ministry approval to issue electronic signatures for signing and/or authenticating the creator of a message/document.
Certificate authority – section 1 of the Electronic Signature Law: A certificate authority is permitted to issue a certain person, upon his/her request, with an electronic signature, which confirms that a specific signature authentication method is his/hers.
In order for a digital signature to receive equal legal status to a regular signature, it must be backed by a digital certificate issued by a certificate authority under conditions stipulated by law.