In the digital age with the electronic exchange of data, the electronic signature is a mechanism that provides security, integrity and trust with transactions between companies, public administrations, and individuals because it allows the veracity of documents to be verified. However, different types of electronic signatures exist according to the level of security they guarantee with the qualified electronic signature being the safest. What are the advantages of operating with a qualified electronic signature?

The electronic signature is explained in Regulation No. 910/2014, known as eIDAS. This European regulation establishes a legal framework for safe interaction in a digital environment. Among other aspects, it regulates electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European market.

eIDAS recognizes three types of electronic signatures based on their level of security:

  • The Simple electronic signature
  • The Advanced electronic signature
  • The Qualified electronic signature

The Differences Between the Simple, Advanced, and Qualified Electronic Signatures

The eIDAS regulation refers to the simple electronic signature as “the data in electronic format annexed to other electronic data or associated in a logical manner with the data that the signatory uses to sign documents.”

The advanced electronic signature is generated from an electronic certificate issued by an accredited provider that identifies the signer whether physical or legal through specific keys. The advanced electronic signature is linked to the signed data so that any modification made to it can be detected fully guaranteeing the integrity and authenticity of the signed documents.

The qualified or recognized signature complies with the same requirements as the advanced signature but goes a step further.

It is made by a qualified device for creating electronic signatures. An electronic signature is generated from a recognized certificate with a secure signature creation device such as a USB token, cryptographic card or HSM device like those employed by EDICOM Trust Services.  It constitutes the most advanced level of signature creation.

It is based on a qualified electronic signature certificate issued by a qualified provider of trust services.

This process and its requirements are established in the eIDAS regulation.

Advantages of the qualified electronic signature:

  1. Equivalence: The qualified electronic signature is the only
    equivalent to the handwritten signature. It has the same legal validity in all countries in the European Union.
    2. Authentication: It allows the source of the data and the signer to be identified.
    3. Integrity: It prevents changes to the signed document.
  2. No repudiation in origin and destination: It offers proof of both the shipment and reception. This way neither the sender nor the recipient can deny the shipment or the reception of the document. This increases legal security.

EDICOM’s Qualified Electronic Signature

EDICOM, an electronic data interchange technology provider is also a qualified provider of trust services and is an accredited certified authority for Europe, Mexico and Colombia.

EDICOM provides qualified signature services through its HSM devices that create secure signatures.  These devices host the qualified certificates at EDICOM’s data centers, which have high levels of security for issuing qualified electronic signatures on large volumes of documents.

EDICOM provides signature services (advanced or qualified) as a complement to its electronic invoicing solutions or in its evidence generation processes for documents kept in EDICOMLta (EDICOM Long Term Archiving).

These services are in accordance with the eIDAS regulation as well as other standards such as the Conservation of Data Messages NOM151 of Mexico, or the electronic invoice signatures in Colombia that requires the use of recognized certificates like those used in the European qualified signature.