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  1. #1
    Bronze Lounger
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    Digital signatures

    The latest newsletter recommends digital signatures for email, and it sounds like something I should have. (All of the posts I could spot reported problems). I did have one long ago, and it didn't seem to work out. Can anyone recommend a source? My ISP is in Canada if that makes a difference.

    Edited to add that I am an individual user with little traffic, but I don't care to have my mail with attachments blocked because I missed something simple.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Digital signatures

    Peter, what newsletter? Is it online, can you provide a link?

    A digital signature is a string of "text" that bakes together your identity and some identifying information about the message so that a recipient can verify that it is from you and has not been altered. I'm not sure how attachments are related to digital signatures.

    There are a variety of ways to generate a digital signature. I believe all of them require that you obtain a certificate (a key) from a recognized authority. I got a "free trial" certificate years ago, perhaps from VeriSign, but didn't end up signing up.

    Your choice of certificate providers may be limited by what is compatible with your mail program. For example, Outlook, which uses the term "digital ID" has a list of compatible providers here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/marketpl...0504841033.aspx. For products migrated from Unix, PGP-based products might be more common.

  3. #3
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    Re: Digital signatures

    My source was Brian Livingston's Windows Secrets Newsletter, paid edition, dated July 27, 2006. Since it's the paid edition I'm not sure if I can quote it at length without breaking any rules, but I am providing full attribution. It struck me as an interesting enough subject to ask about, and it might constitute a promotion for the newsletter itself.

    The home page is http://windowssecrets.com/

    "In cases like this, it's ridiculous for so-called experts to say "don't open any attachments." PC users often must use attachments to share files with each other. The solution is to require, as soon as possible, that all e-mails and all active-content files be digitally signed. The signature establishes which domain name is responsible for creating a particular file. This in turn allows our PCs to automatically reject files from domains that don't have well-earned, positive reputations.

    Efforts to digitally sign all e-mails, such as the DomainKeys standard (which I last reviewed for Datamation on May 9) are moving forward. I hope full adoption comes sooner rather than later."

  4. #4
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Digital signatures

    Oh, I hadn't thought about DomainKeys. That is something you probably won't need to deal with personally unless you operate your own mail server. Some info: http://antispam.yahoo.com/domainkeys.

  5. #5
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    Re: Digital signatures

    Thank you for the help and for the links, which were very helpful.

  6. #6
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    Re: Digital signatures

    One place that you can get a certificate from is Thawte Personal E-mail Certificates. These are available at no charge, by default it will verify your email address, but your name will appear as Thawte Freemail Member. If you know any existing members of their "web of trust" then you can get them to verify your real name and have that on the certificate instead.

    You can also use PGP Freeware, but that doesn't integrate into applications like Outlook as well, and would require the people receiving your mail to have PGP if they want to verify your signature.

    StuartR

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