Czech Ministry of Justice locks up documents with eIDAS qualified seals

The Ministry of Justice is the central state administration body for courts, the prosecutor’s office, prisons, probation and mediation for the Czech Republic. As part of its digital transformation the Ministry needed to deploy a system that would digitally seal the electronic documents used throughout the Czech legal system, proving their authenticity and integrity, and that they have not been tampered with.

Business challenge

Legal systems manage a huge number of documents that must be verified as authentic, whether they are physical or electronic. The European Union (EU) Electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services (eIDAS) regulation created a digital trust and legal environment and opens a new era in digitization for both the public and private sectors. eIDAS establishes standards for electronic identities, authentication and signatures. It applies to government bodies and businesses that provide online services to European citizens, and that recognize or use identities, authentication or signatures. For the public sector, it brings an obligation to create tools for the implementation of effective eGovernment. Government agencies are required to use qualified seals on documents to prove their origin and authenticity and to demonstrate they have not been altered since sealing.

The Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic approached SEFIRA to design and deploy an infrastructure that would digitally seal the electronic documents used by the Ministry and courts, that would comply with eIDAS and give the electronic documents the same legal standing as a physical document.

Based in Prague, SEFIRA is an nCipher technology partner and creates best-in-class paperless solutions for the trusted creation, verification and storage of electronic documents that comply with the technical and legislative standards required by the European Union (EU).

Technical challenge

Because legal systems manage a massive number of documents, the digital sealing system would need to process potentially thousands of documents simultaneously. It was also important that there was no potential for down time.

The eIDAS regulation introduced electronic seals as a solution for legal entities, allowing them to protect the authenticity and integrity of electronic documents and data. An electronic seal is based on the same technology as an electronic signature. A qualified electronic seal can only be created if it meets certain technical standards as set out by eIDAS.

According to eIDAS, qualified seals must be supported by a qualified seal creation device (QSealCD). These hardware devices ensure highly credible cryptographic operations and are optimized for the secure generation and storage of cryptographic keys. For the Ministry of Justice, the QSealCD would need to deliver both extraordinary performance and exceptional reliability.

Solution

Martin Jurík, paperless solution consultant at SEFIRA, reports “We integrated both SEFIRA OBELISK Seal and nCipher nShield Connect hardware security modules (HSMs) into the Ministry’s existing document system to create trusted electronic documents with an eIDAS qualified seal.”

nShield HSMs are certified to Common Criteria EAL4+ (AVA_VAN.5) and are certified QSealCDs, capable of issuing digital certificates, digital signatures, timestamps as well as other transactional data and qualified seals under eIDAS. The nShield HSMs provide the high assurance cryptographic processing and key storage for the electronic seals that are automatically created by OBELISK Seal software.

nShield HSMs provide the performance and the reliability required to meet the demands of the Ministry of Justice. The overall solution enables eIDAS compliance for signing, sealing, timestamping, and long-term storage of electronic documents as well as verification and acknowledgement of seal validity across the EU.

Results

The Czech Republic’s Ministry of Justice now has an eIDAS compliant document system. It quickly and efficiently seals between seven to eight million digital documents per month. The Ministry has expressed its gratitude for the efficient delivery and ongoing support of the system.

Asked why SEFIRA chose nShield HSMs, Jurík said “In order to meet eIDAS requirements and have a solution that can be used in government applications, you need certified hardware and software to produce a qualified seal. Both our OBELISK software and nShield HSMs have the certifications to make this possible. We’ve worked with nCipher for many years now, and we know its HSMs are dependable, durable, and prove to be value for money.”

Performance, reliability and protection

Business need
  • The Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic required an eIDAS compliant digital sealing solution to confirm the authenticity of electronic legal documents used by the Czech legal system
Technology need
  • A high assurance, high capacity, highly reliable eIDAS compliant document sealing solution
  • The ability to process potentially thousands of documents per minute with no down time
Solution
  • SEFIRA OBELISK Seal software
  • nCipher nShield Connect HSMs
Result
  • The Czech Republic’s Ministry of Justice now has an eIDAS compliant document system and efficiently seals seven to eight million documents per month.
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