Digital signatures - Estonia vs Russia Tiit, 14 Jan 2016

While developing online banks for Russian customers, we started to appreciate even more the work done with digital signatures in Estonia. Implementing this functionality in Russia is not so trivial.

The future has arrived in Estonia

We are living in the leading country in regard to introducing cryptography for the masses. In Estonia it does not cost anything to validate website user’s identity and to get a legally binding digital signature from the user. The keys for that purpose were handed out to all citizens and residents already 15 years ago.

The country was the first in the World to fully adapt digital signature and handing out not suspicious citizens the keys in the form of a mandatory document - national ID card. Millions of digital signatures are outnumbering paper based signatures.

What about the situation in Russia?

Adding such an elementary feature like a digital signature turned out not so trivial in Russia. As the importance of this concept only grows in the future, most of the developers need to know, how it works.

In Russia companies have to take on their shoulders the creation of the whole infrastructure to enable digital signatures. Likewise the requirements for algorithms are differing from the worldwide standards.

Several commercial organisations are trying to fill this gap by selling their services, but they are incompatible with each other and hard to match into Java-world. Although by now for a Java developer there are sufficient amount of open-source tools to manage this task. One needs to understand only, how things are interrelated.

Getting into details

Our CTO Anton has recently compared cryptography in Estonia and Russia on multiple events, based on our team’s experience working with both of them in several projects.

The following is a video of Anton's presentation from DevClub event held on 16th of February 2016 @ Pipedrive Office. In the video Anton explains, how it works and what sort of infrastructure needs to be built with own resources.

The slides from the event: