Feds electronically sign documents without PKI

Feds electronically sign documents without PKI

Users at about 80 federal agencies including the IRS and the Mint are digitally signing documents without a public-key infrastructure.

ApproveIt Desktop, a PC application from Silanis Technology Inc. of Montreal, runs under Microsoft Windows 9x, Win 2000 and NT operating systems. It applies signatures to Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe Acrobat, JetForm FormFlow, Extensible Markup Language and Hypertext Markup Language documents.

The IRS recently bought several thousand licenses, and the Mint bought 2,800 licenses at $143 each from a General Services Administration schedule contract, Silanis officials said.

Users can initiate their digital signatures in three ways. They can create a so-called ePersona by drawing on a business card-sized digital pad, which sells for $225 on the GSA schedule.

Or they can manually sign a printed version of the computerized electronic signature form, fax it to Silanis and within 24 hours get back an ePersona file, which is used with a password to digitally sign documents.

The third method is to install ePersona server software, which lets users draw their signatures with a mouse.

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