Kisco Adds Digital Signatures to Spool-to-PDF Tool
April 5, 2011 Alex Woodie
Trust is one of the most critical aspects of e-commerce in today’s security-conscious world. If you don’t trust that a website or document came from a particular company, chances are very good that you will not do business with them. Kisco Information Systems last week gave IBM i shops another way to bolster their customers’ trust with the launch of WebReport/400 version 11, which enables organizations to use digital signatures with PDF documents that are generated from IBM i spool files.
WebReport/400 is a versatile utility that allows IBM i shops to make more effective use of the spool files and reports generated by their applications. The software can be used interactively to email, fax, or FTP spool files that it has converted into PDF, Excel, rich text, or other formats. It can also work automatically using monitored output queues, or its functions can be embedded directly into existing applications.
With last week’s launch of WebReport/400 version 11, Kisco is giving customers the capability to use cryptographic digital signatures to ensure the integrity of electronic transactions. Any PDFs generated by WebReport/400 can optionally be accompanied by a digital signature that enables the recipient to verify that the document is authentic and that it hasn’t been modified.
The new feature was added at the request of WebReport/400 customers, says Kisco president Rich Loeber. Many of Kisco’s customers use WebReport/400 to distribute business documents like invoices and purchase orders. “We have quite a few bank customers who could use this to help authenticate statements,” he added.
The use of digital signatures has become a critical tool that companies and government agencies can employ to ensure the integrity and authenticity of documents, particularly as the Internet becomes more unsecure and hackers and phishers become more sophisticated. Several technologies underlie digital signatures, including public key infrastructure (PKI), whereby the issuing party holds the private key and the receiving party holds the public key, which is reverse of how PKI works with the general encryption of documents.
The digital certificate process begins when the originating party creates a hash value by running the contents of the document through a hashing algorithm. The digital signature itself is created when the originating party uses its private key to encrypt this hash value. This digital signature is then verified by the receiving party by applying the public key (which travels with the document) against the digital signature. If the hash value returned by the public key decryption process is identical to the original hash value, then the recipient can feel confident that the document is authentic, and that it hasn’t been altered. This digital signature checking process is largely automated.
Adobe has supported digital documents in the PDF document standard for some time. Multiple digital signatures can be included in a single PDF, and Adobe can also track all these signatures and any authorized changes that have been made to the document. Adobe relies on outside firms, such as RSA, Entrust, VeriSign, GeoTrust, and ActivIdentity, to provide PKI certificates.
WebReport/400 works with IBM‘s Digital Certificate Manager (DCM) utility to generate cryptographic keys. Because many IBM i shops already have DCM installed on their servers, Kisco expects this will be the route that most customers will take.
However, WebReport/400 can work with other certificate-issuing entities, such as VeriSign. Loeber explains why a WebReport/400 customer may want to utilize a third party: “A certificate created locally by DCM will show up on the PDF document as coming from an unknown source, so a commercially available signature might be more desirable for some customers,” he says.
The new release of WebReport/400 includes several other new features, including the capability to split reports into multiple components that are emailed, faxed, or sent to a local printer, depending on directives embedded into the spool file. Version 11 also bolsters the capability to FTP spool files converted and stored in the IFS. It also improves exception handling in the message queue monitor; adds summary notifications in the file monitor; and delivers automatic report routing based on individual user preferences.
WebReport/400 version 11 is available now. Pricing starts at $1,195. The PDF capability is an optional add-on that boosts the starting price to $1,795. For more information, see www.kisco.com.