vb.net barcode scanner webcam Digital Signatures: Beyond Security in Software

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Digital Signatures: Beyond Security
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Finally, because the validity of documents with these new electronic signatures has never been challenged in court, their legal status is truly not yet defined. It s likely that through such challenges, we will see the courts issue rulings that will better define which methods, key sizes, and security precautions are acceptable for electronic signatures to be legally binding.
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Digital signatures have the potential to possess greater legal authority than handwritten signatures. Why Digital signatures may provide a higher degree of nonrepudiation and authenticity than their handwritten counterparts. For example, if a ten-page document is signed by hand on the tenth page, one cannot be sure that the first nine pages have not been altered. However, if an electronic document is signed with a digital signature, a third party can verify that not one byte of the contract has been altered. For this and other reasons, digital signatures also save the parties time and money. However, if digital signatures are to replace handwritten signatures, serious issues some of which revolve around current legislation must be answered. For example, is the current E-SIGN Act enough Do electronic signatures provide the same level of nonrepudiation and authenticity provided by handwritten signatures E-SIGN is a great leap forward for both interstate and international Internet commerce. However, E-SIGN should be seen more as a foundation on which to build with current and emerging technologies, such as the use of public-key technology, PKIs, and digital notaries.
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A number of relevant products can be purchased or downloaded free from the Internet. They range from enabling software to hardware that allows users to authenticate themselves to their private signing key. Following are only a couple of the available solutions.
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RSA Security, Inc., as well as a number of other security software vendors, offers developer software development kits (SDKs) and products. BSAFE Cert-C and Cert-J, for example, allow developers to use public-key certificates for a number of security services such as digital signatures. Datum carries an excellent time-stamp device to be used in conjunction with digital notaries or time-stamp authorities or to provide in-house time-stamp services.
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In addition to security vendors that sell products designed for users and developers, we will likely see the advent of more businesses that will offer services to support digital signatures. Such services include certification authorities and time-stamp and digital notary services. Here are some examples:
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VeriSign is a certification authority that issues public-key certificates to end users.
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Finally, we should not forget legal professionals. A great many legal professionals have taken the time to become technically savvy, and we expect to see this number increase as more related legal cases are seen in the future.
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Digisign is one company that has already begun selling time-stamp and digital notary services.
CHAPTER
Doing It Wrong: The Break-Ins
Over the past two decades, the computer industry has really taken off, and the number of security incidents has increased significantly. Corporations as well as individuals have learned the hard way that data can easily be accessed, disclosed, modified, or even deleted if proper security is not provided. Over the years, companies have fallen short in their efforts to implement cryptographic solutions both in their own products and services and in attempts to protect their internal enterprise from intruders. This chapter summarizes the various types of losses that occur when a system is not properly secured. We also outline the kinds of threats and intruders that have come to be widely reported. Finally, we look at a number of case studies in which security was either overlooked or failed because of improper implementation. (We describe successful case studies in 12.)
Measuring Losses
The kinds of losses that organizations can experience because of lapses in computer security can be counted in a number of ways. Many people think
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11
first of the direct forms of loss, such as the loss of data. However, when you look closely at what is at stake, loss of data is only the beginning. Following is a short list of the types of losses that occur:
Loss of data or secrets When people hear the word hacker, this is perhaps one of the first types of loss that they think of. This category includes the loss of user credit card numbers, compromise of financial reports, and unauthorized access to medical information.
NOTE:
The data itself need not have been stolen for a serious loss to result. Instead, an attacker may manipulate the data in such a way that it is rendered inaccurate or unusable.
Loss of reputation After a successful breach of security, end users may abandon a service or product because they re afraid to use it. Yet another aspect of this type of loss is the effect it has on assessments of a corporation by financial analysts. Sometimes an analyst s negative evaluation can have as great an impact as the break-in itself. This may be one of the main reasons that corporations seldom report break-ins and theft of data. Financial losses In addition to direct financial thefts, loss of data and loss of reputation will result in financial losses. Financial losses can be one of the most difficult to quantify. One reason is that no one knows exactly how many current customers will not return following a break-in or, worse yet, how many potential new customers will never make the attempt.
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