Identity Crisis

by Joel Orr, Pres.; Orr Associates, Int., Chesapeake, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 6, Pg. 52-54

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: For years, engineers have established the authenticity of original documents with stamps and signatures. Although stamps and signatures work well for hard copies of documents, they inadequate for establishing the originality of documents produced electronically, such as CAD drawings. Digital signatures, essentially encrypted tags' attached to electronic documents, can take the place of stamps and handwritten signatures. Creating a digital signature requires a hashing, or special encryption mechanism. Hashing is the process of scanning the contents of a document, creating a digest, or condensed version of the contents, and encrypting the digest. After hashing, the document can not be altered. Legislation legalizing the use of digital signatures as a replacement for stamps and handwritten signatures has been passed in several states in the U.S., and is pending in others.

Subject Headings: Digital techniques | Documentation | Identification | Legal factors |

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