How to create a digital signature with FossLook

Modern entrepreneurs are trying to transfer all their documents into electronic format. Almost every legal paper must be approved, so people want to know how to make an electronic signature certifying the relevance and validity of it. Signing something with your computer is much more convenient than signing a hard copy. FossLook allows users to sign the document as well as any attached file with Electronic Digital Signature (EDS) in no time.

What is a digital signature?

A digital signature (EDS) is usually presented as encrypted information that is attached to the data sent via communication channels. With EDS you can identify the person who signed the electronic documents (files) and is responsible for it. Digital signature should ensure the correct and secure communication between individuals and public institutions. There are various digital signature algorithms which can be used, for example "RSA with MD5" or "ECDSA with SHA-256".

EDS providers supported in FossLook

FossLook demo version uses Microsoft EDS provider, but it is also possible to use other providers. In order to use a specific EDS provider, usually it's better to contact a specialized centers, and acquire the necessary set of keys for your employees. Otherwise, you may use a free alternative - Microsoft Crypto Provider: in this case, an organization can set up a CA (Certification Authority) based on Windows domain, and use the Microsoft digital signature. On the one hand such digital signatures are not valid from a legal point of view, but internally they may accomplish their main task - ensure the integrity of the documents in organization.

You can select EDS provider in FossLook Administrator.

Selecting EDS provider

Selecting document type for EDS signature

First, you have to select the document type that will have EDS function. To do this, in FossLook Administrator select the library and open the document type.

Selecting document type for electronic digital signature

Select the "Digital Signature" function for this document,

Selecting digital signature function

and click "Setup digital signature".

Document type for the EDS settings

Select fields that you want to sign.

Selecting fields for signing

Digital certificates - Configuring Microsoft EDS

To apply digital signatures to legal papers and files the organization must hold a valid digital certificate. Digital certificates are issued by the trusted certificate authority, in our case it's Microsoft crypto provider. To work with Microsoft crypto provider, you need to configure Active Directory Certificate Services.

Make sure you have selected the Microsoft EDS provider in FossLook Administrator:

Selecting the Microsoft EDS provider

Next, each user should get his own digital signature certificate. This can be done using the certmgr.msc, which could be launched via Windows Start menu:

Starting certmgr.msc

Under Personal section you can view existing certificates, and request a new one:

Request for a new Microsoft certificate via certmgr.msc

Once the certificate is obtained, user can work with the "Digital Signatures" tab in documents.

For the Microsoft provider, user must specify his/her certificate and then continue to work with "Digital Signatures" tab.

Configuring certificate when applying a digital signature

Signing the document fields

Selected earlier document fields will be signed by electronic signature. If one of the signed fields will be somehow changed during the document workflow, it's EDS will not be valid. Let's look at the following example. The "Date" field of the "Marketing plan" was signed and then, it was sent for approval to John Graham.

Selecting document for signing

John Graham checked the document's digital signature,

Checking the validity of a digital signature

and then changed the value of the "Date" field.

Changing document field's value

When he checked the digital signature again, the system displayed a message that digital signature was not valid,

Not valid EDS

but John Graham can also sign the document with his signature, in that way his signature will be valid.

Signing a document by multiple users

At the moment, it is not possible to determine which field was violated, but you can review the document changes on the "History" tab.

Signing attachments

When you configure the EDS for the attachments, there are two options "Sign each file" and "Sign the amount of attached files".

Setting EDS for attached files

"Sign each file" means that the contents of attachments is signed, and you can add new files to the document without violating digital signature. For example, the user Kate Martel has prepared the document, then she attached the file with the name "Commercial proposition.docx" and signed it. The system will indicate that the file was signed.

Signed file

Next, it was sent to the user John Graham. He added one more file and re-signed the document. As a result, the signature was added to the whole document plus two more files.

Applying the second user signature

Option "Sign the amount of attached files" means that if you add or remove any files from document, the signature will no longer be valid. If you need to monitor both the contents of files and their amount, then you must select both options. The picture below shows invalid EDS both for the file and for the document itself, because changes have been made to the contents of the file, and another file was added.

Invalid EDS when you add a new attached file and change its content

Users performing duties on behalf of other users

The system has a concept of delegation. Delegation is the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person. In other words, one user can perform the tasks of another user. In this case, a digital signature is applied using the key of user who is acting on behalf of the author. You can see the name of the delegate in the "Delegate" column of the "Digital signatures" tab.

EDS on behalf of the delegate

EDS configuration for several types of documents

If several types of documents have the same fields and you plan to sign them, there is a possibility to apply the same EDS settings for all of these types.

To do this, press "Setup digital signature" button in the document's type window, and select one or several types. For example, start by adding another document type such as "Commercial proposition". In the lower part of a form, the list of fields from the second document type will be added automatically. Now fields from the both types will be signed with digital signature.

Selecting more than one document type for the EDS

Working with EDS

After you have created and saved the document, if you need to sign it, you have to select the "Digital signatures" tab and press "Apply digital signature" button.

Signing the document with EDS

You can view the information about attributes of the document that will be signed, or modify it's EDS settings in the digital signature form that will appear. EDS settings depend on the global provider's EDS settings in the system.

Signing the document with EDS

To check the validity of the signature you can use the corresponding function. Note that when the document is opened automatic check of its digital signature(-s) is performed.

Document's EDS verification

Benefits provided by the digital signature

  • Authenticity - An electronic document signed with a digital signature can stand up in court just as well as any other signed paper.
  • Security - The use of digital signatures and electronic documents reduces risks of forgery.
  • Time saving - Save time and resources over paper-based worfklows.
  • Costs - Using postal or courier services for paper versions is much more expensive compared to using digital signatures on electronic versions.
  • Speed - You don't have to wait for paper to be sent by courier.
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