EDI public key

PKI Defined (SARS EDI Requirements)

PKI can be defined as the architecture, organisation, techniques, practices, and procedures that collectively support the implementation and operation of a certificate-based public key cryptographic system. It includes a set of policies, processes, server platforms, software and workstations, used for the purpose of administering Digital Certificates and keys. A Public Key Cryptographic system works with the help of asymmetric crypto-systems algorithms.

Conventional signatures and digital signatures compared

The challenge for the PKI is to translate the trust conventions of the physical world and make them work in on-line transactions. Signatures are not the substance of the transaction. Signatures only represent an event in a transaction. Signatures impart certain characteristics to the objects involved in the transaction. More precisely, a paper signature authenticates signer (or signatory) and a signed document whereby the signer leaves a distinctive mark and the signer’s writings become the signature. This becomes the evidence connecting the signer and the signed document. The signer of a paper document is aware of the significance of the act of signing and the finality associated with the event of signing. By common law and custom, the very act of signing implies that the signer duly approves the contents of the document being signed. Signed documents represent distinct “states” or “final stages” in a transaction and the convenience associated with having crossed certain final stages or states.

In conventional signatures, paper is the basis and therefore, in the absence of paper, the characteristics of a paper-based signature have to be built into digital signatures. The PKI technology enables the generation of signatures, verification of signatures, archiving of the verified documents/records and provides evidence whenever necessary. An actual PKI implementation must therefore address itself to these aspects.

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