Trust lies at the center of any commercial transaction. As enterprises go digital, this trust is fostered by ensuring that all digitized business deals are legal, secure, and hold credibility across countries. With electronic signatures gaining traction, it has become imperative for organizations and their business partners to trust that the binary codes they use to sign on the dotted line are handled securely.
Enter electronic Trust Service Providers (TSPs).
As digital signature solutions become the new normal, more and more businesses are seeking the services of TSPs who securely store signing keys and digital certificates in order to ensure the integrity and validity of these certificates, e-signs, and e-seals. Operating under international regulations, TSPs provide end-to-end trust services around the creation, validation, and preservation of digital signatures and certificates. And if you’re seeking the highest level of security standards for your business documents, a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) is where your search ends.
Let’s dive in to get a complete low-down on what is a TSP, why you should use one, and what benefits they bring to the table.
Learn More About : Digital Signatures Security Mechanism
Defining TSP and QTSP
The EU’s eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) regulation defines a TSP as, “a natural or legal person who provides one or more trust services as a qualified or non-qualified trust service provider.”
The primary responsibility of a TSP is to provide foolproof mechanisms for the authentication and security of digital signatures. The umbrella of services they offer also extends to creating, verifying, validating, and preserving e-signatures, seals, time stamps, and digital certificates.
A TSP could provide either one or a combination of these services. Some only issue digital certificates. Some provide end-to-end electronic signature services. But whatever the scope of service, all TSPs follow strict protocols when it comes to validating and securing digital certificates and signatures.
Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSPs), on the other hand, take the security quotient of digital signature solutions to a whole new level. They comply with additional measures to provide qualified e-signature creation services.
Organizations need to up their security ante by several notches in order to meet the requirements laid out by the eIDAS and get listed as a recognized QTSP. The additional security covenants ensure that the integrity of all client data stays secure and protected.
TSP vs QTSP: What’s the difference?
The difference between a TSP and a QTSP is the same as that between a general medicine practitioner and a specialist. One is generic and the other is super qualified. While TSPs offer services like electronic signatures, seals, timestamps, registered deliveries, and certificates for website authentication, QTSPs offer a qualified version of the same services.
Enterprises usually choose between a TSP or QTSP depending on the type of security net they require and the laws of the country they operate in. In most cases, a regular trust service provider does a credible job of validating and securing e-signatures. But if you’re looking at completely safety-proofing your digital signatures and certificates then QTSP is the way to go.
An added advantage that QTSPs bring on board is that they carry the onus of providing proof of correctness of a digital certificate or signature in case of any dispute. The EU’s eIDAS regulations also stipulate that QTSPs must undergo periodic, independent audits that gauge their levels of security, quality, and trust.
Why TSPs are a must-have for enterprises
Consider a scenario. You’ve struck a lucrative business deal, signed on the dotted line, and made the deliveries. The partnership then runs into rough waters and ends up in a dispute. If your digital signature is not validated and secured, then it leaves you with no standing to enforce the clauses laid out in the business deal.
Such a situation can be avoided by bringing an electronic TSP on board. Operating under international regulations, they securely store signing keys and digital certificates and ensure the integrity of every document they handle. This, in turn, builds trust in commercial transactions, ensures that electronic documents are not illegally altered, and helps organizations recognize senders easily. TSPs also have the ability to prove the origin of a document and ensure it stays confidential.
What’s more, while e-signatures are critical to ensure the security and legal validity of any electronic document, TSPs offer a wider range of advanced document validating services. These include:
- Electronic seals: When attached to a document, it guarantees its origin and integrity.
- Electronic time stamping: It provides electronic documents with proof of date and time of signing.
- Electronic registered delivery service: Empowers business partners to exchange electronic data securely. It is a safety net against theft, damage, loss, or making any unapproved changes. It also provides proof of delivery and receipt.
- Website authentication: Using this service, enterprises can verify the genuineness of a website and the people who own it.
If you are still sitting on the fence about partnering with a TSP to ensure the security of your electronic documents, here are some compelling reasons to do so:
- Save time and money, especially when you’re dealing in high-volume, international transactions. TSPs also ensure that document signing happens concurrently, even though the signatories may be sitting across the world.
- Automate the signing and validating of electronic documents. This is a boon for companies like leasing organizations, banks, and public institutions that process large numbers of documents.
- Like e-signatures, electronic seals and time stamps– that are provided exclusively by TSPs – are worth their weight in gold as evidence in any court of law.
- When you work with a TSP you can be assured of working on a tamper-proof, accurate, and technically glitch-free document. This eliminates all chances of a fake certificate finding its way into your folder and reduces security vulnerabilities.
- All business relationships are built on a foundation of trust. Since TSPs follow strict quality and security obligations, you know your commercial transactions are in safe hands and will stand strong in the face of any litigation.
- If you want to know the date and time of the signing of a document, you don’t need to go hunting in your ledger books. Electronic time-stamping services provide all electronic documents with proof of date and time of signing. If your business partnership runs into a dispute, your electronic document cannot be challenged on this front.
Sum Up: Stay ahead of security threats with TSPs
International laws on the security and validity of electronic documents are turning more stringent by the day. As enterprises navigate this world of digitized documentation, TSPs are emerging as the safest way to avoid compliance fines and stay one step ahead of security threats.
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