What is an electronic certificate? Understand the basics of secure digital signatures

As technology advances, the need for secure digital communication is greater than ever. This is where the concept of electronic certificates comes into play. As part of extensive NFQES solutions for qualified electronic signature services in the SaaS model as well as Enterprise solutions, we consider it important to clarify this key element. Let’s explore what an electronic certificate is and why it’s crucial for securing transactions and communications.

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What is an electronic certificate?

An electronic certificate is a cryptographic key pair issued by a trusted certification authority (CA), in our case NFQES. The certificate serves as a digital ID (in the case of a qualified certificate, we can talk about a digital ID card), linking your identity to a pair of electronic keys used for encrypting and signing digital information.

The certificate contains basic data such as:

  • Holder’s name and other identifying information
  • Copy of the public key
  • Certificate serial number
  • Digital signature of the issuing certification authority
  • Validities
  • Usage limitations (e.g., only for code signing, email, etc.)

Why are electronic certificates important?

Authenticity and trust

An electronic certificate, or an electronic signature ensures that the data you send or receive is truly from the specified source. It adds an extra layer of trust that it provides with encryption and the validity of the signature tells you that the document has not been altered.

Data security

Together with advanced encryption techniques, the electronic certificate ensures that the exchanged data is secured and accessible only to the intended recipient, thus preventing data leakage. Even a minor change, such as comma or a space in the document and the signature will be immediately invalid.

Legal compliance

For businesses and organizations, electronic certificates are essential to meet regulatory requirements. Our NFQES solutions are fully compliant with eIDAS, ensuring that your digital transactions meet European standards for security and maximum legal certainty.

How do electronic certificates work?

When using NFQES for digital signing, your electronic certificate is integrated into the signing process. Here’s a simplified outline:

  1. Signature request: You initiate a document for signing through the NFQES platform.
  2. Certificate selection: NFQES prompts you to select the appropriate electronic certificate—you may have multiple certificates of different levels.
  3. Signature creation: The system uses your private key to generate a unique electronic signature, which is then inserted into the document.
  4. Signature verification: The recipient can verify the signature using the public key embedded in your electronic certificate, for instance, through Acrobat Reader. A correct signature is indicated by a green checkmark ✅ in Acrobat Reader.

Get an electronic signature from NFQES

Electronic certificates are the cornerstone of secure digital communication and transactions. Not only do they keep your data safe, but they also verify your identity in the digital world. Through NFQES solutions in the SaaS model (zone.nfqes.com), as well as Enterprise solutions for on-premise use, we make the integration and management of electronic certificates for businesses and organizations simple and easy, while complying with the highest security standards and legal frameworks (eIDAS).

The author of the article is

Miroslav Rechtorík