What is a Digital Signature?

A digital signature is a cryptographic technology used to ensure the security and authenticity of electronic documents, messages, and transactions on the Internet in Belarus. It allows to ensure that the information has not been changed and was sent from the specified sender. This raises a lot of questions and nuances when registering and using. The article describes how a digital signature works, what advantages it provides, and what is needed to use an electronic digital signature.

What is the use of an electronic digital signature?

Along with paper documents, electronic documents are exchanged between business partners, government agencies and individuals. Electronic document management saves space for storing physical documents and speeds up the processes that are processed using electronic documents. Therefore, electronic documents are being used more widely. For electronic documents to have legal force, they must contain mandatory details. One of these details is an electronic digital signature (EDS). The EDS confirms that the document signed by the EDS is authentic, complete and signed by the person who owns the EDS key certificate.

An EDS is equivalent to a person’s personal signature in the cases provided for in the legislation. For example, starting July 1, 2024, Belarusian individual entrepreneurs will file tax returns only in electronic form using EDS. Paper tax returns will no longer be accepted.

What does an EDS look like?

An EDS is a set of characters activated using a unique electronic key. The key has a specific validity period and is kept by those authorized to sign electronic documents on their behalf or on behalf of the company. The EDS key looks like a flash drive. It connects to the computer from which electronic documents are sent via a USB connector. 

There is also a mobile EDS. In this case, the private key of the mobile EDS is stored on the phone’s SIM card. You do not need to connect to a computer to sign electronic documents using a mobile digital signature. The SIM card technology must support EDS. In this case, they sign an electronic document by exchanging SMS messages and entering a PIN code. A mobile EDS certificate can be issued in Belarus for 1, 2 or 3 years from A1 and MTS mobile operators. This makes it possible to sign tax returns directly from your phone. The mobile EDS is also used to identify users on the public services portal.

The EDS can be located on the centre’s cloud server, responsible for electronic document management. 

Electronic documents are signed in the electronic document flow between banks and customers with the help of EDS issued by banks.

What are EDS keys?

Asymmetric encryption technology, which includes a private key and a public key, is most often used to create a digital signature.

Only the certificate owner knows the private key, which cannot be calculated even if all the information in the public key is available. The public key allows you to verify the authenticity of a specific user’s signature on an electronic file. A special program connects the private and public keys. A public key certificate is an electronic document issued by an electronic document management service provider. The public key certificate contains its validity period and confirms that the EDS belongs to a specific person.

An electronic document is encrypted using a private EDS key and decrypted using an open one.

The EDS certificate can be obtained remotely or personally at the National Center for Electronic Services and its divisions.

Is it possible to change a document signed by an EDS?

An EDS is created using a private key in a unique program that generates characters that cannot be changed. This confirms the integrity of the electronic document. The EDS public key works so that the recipient of an electronic document identifies its author. The document remains unchanged after it is signed by the EDS. The reverse process of decryption of the electronic document takes place on the recipient’s device. When a document is signed with a genuine EDS, it is considered complete and authentic.

Who can sign EDS documents?

Electronic documents can be signed by any person who owns an EDS. 

The EDS documents are signed by the head or other employee who is assigned to sign them on behalf of the company.

Individual entrepreneurs and individuals can also use EDS when signing electronic documents in their activities, for personal purposes, statistical and tax reporting, and submitting reports to the Social Protection Fund, Belgosstrakh, and customs authorities.

Business entities can exchange electronic invoices of the prescribed form, signed EDS, and other electronic documents, such as contracts and acts of completed works.

Individuals can sign credit and other agreements using EDS.

What is an EDS attribute certificate?

Unlike a public key certificate, which allows you to identify the person using the EDS and verify the EDS, an attribute certificate defines a list of EDS user credentials. The attribute certificate confirms the connection between the EDS private key owner and the person authorized to sign electronic EDS documents.

An attribute certificate is used with a public key certificate in electronic document management. 

The attribute certificate contains information:

  • About the person who received the authority to sign the EDS documents.
  • About who granted such powers to this person.
  • On the authority to sign an electronic document.

An attribute certificate is needed:

  1. Companies in which electronic documents on behalf of companies are signed by employees who have been issued an EDS on behalf of the company – the owners of the personal EDS key. 
  2. In case of transfer of authority to sign electronic documents to third parties.

At the National Center for Electronic Services, they receive an attribute certificate and an open EDS electronic key certificate. Both certificates can be obtained simultaneously.

The attribute certificate is used, among other things, for reporting to the Social Protection Fund for access to the software provided by the fund to contribution payers. It can also be used to participate in electronic procurement and exchange electronic invoices.

How to control the use of EDS certificates in the company?

The company needs to control:

  • Obtaining an attribute certificate for new employees.
  • Revocation of the attribute certificate in case of dismissal or transfer of employees to another position.
  • The validity period of public key certificates.
  • Suspension of the validity of the attribute certificate during the employee’s absence from work.

How to contact us 

For more information or advice on issues related to obtaining and using EDS, EDS certificates, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help and support you.

Phone and e-mail communication options are available for your convenience:

  • +375293664477 (WhatsApp/Telegram/Viber);
  • info@spex.by.
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