We use the term “timestamped” to describe the act of recording the date and time of an event. A digital camera records the time and date that a photo is taken, and the time and date that a document is saved and updated are recorded by a computer. There may be a time and date stamp on a social media post. All of these are timestamps.
What is Timestamping?
Timestamps are critical to the process of keeping track of when data is transmitted or created, or removed online. For the most part, these documents are just handy for us to access. A timestamp, on the other hand, can be more useful in some situations.
Your company electronically forms a legal agreement or NDA with another business, and the two parties are protected from disclosing confidential information. After some time, it was discovered that the contractor who signed the NDA had released information about the project. The contractor claims that the NDA is invalid, claiming that information was communicated before the NDA was signed. It’s critical to know when the document was signed.
In a legal environment such as this, a simple timestamp is insufficient. It’s critical if your case hinges on proving that the signature’s timestamp is accurate and that the document was signed when it was claimed to have been signed.
Because it is so easy to change the date and time locally on a machine, timestamps based on system clocks are insufficient. In addition, a number of online applications let you alter the updated, created, and most recently accessed dates of a document or PDF. For example, is the time stamp reliable?
When Are Timestamps Frequently Used?
Compliance and auditability conditions must be met before an electronic signature may be considered legally binding. Recipients can check the timestamp of an electronic document in order to see if any changes have been made since it was signed. Using timestamping, businesses can protect their intellectual property and give auditable legal proof. Read more.
Digitally signing a document with a trusted timestamp ensures Long-Term Validation (LTV) and adds non-repudiation or confidence regarding the application time of the signature. Because digital signature confirmation involves an initial content inspection, the importance of a timestamp is diminished compared to electronic signatures.
Long-Term Validation (LTV)
It does not matter if the certificate is still valid, provided the signature was valid when applied. Adding a trusted timestamp to your signature may be necessary, depending on the signing tool. In these cases, the timestamp verifies the authenticity of the signature. If the application sees a canceled or outdated certificate, but the signature was given before, it will display the signature as authentic as it was previously. Most applications require time stamps; however, the system clock can be altered.
The timestamp must be included in the signature to ensure that signatures don’t expire or are invalidated when the certificate expires or is revoked by the end-user. A timestamp (and LTV) ensures that the signature may be verified because the signing certificate was valid at the moment of application.