Table of Contents:

Digital Signatures

Contents in Brief

  • 11.1 Introduction.............................425
  • 11.2 A framework for digital signature mechanisms ..........426
  • 11.3 RSA and related signature schemes.................433
  • 11.4 Fiat-Shamir signature schemes...................447
  • 11.5 The DSA and related signature schemes..............451
  • 11.6 One-time digital signatures.....................462
  • 11.7 Other signature schemes......................471
  • 11.8 Signatures with additional functionality..............474
  • 11.9 Notes and further references....................481

Introduction

This chapter considers techniques designed to provide the digital counterpart to a handwritten signature. A digital signature of a message is a number dependent on some secret known only to the signer, and, additionally, on the content of the message being signed. Signatures must be verifiable; if a dispute arises as to whether a party signed a document (caused by either a lying signer trying to repudiate a signature it did create, or a fraudulent claimant), an unbiased third party should be able to resolve the matter equitably, without requiring access to the signer’s secret information (private key).

Digital signatures have many applications in information security, including authentication, data integrity, and non-repudiation. One of the most significant applications of digital signatures is the certification of public keys in large networks. Certification is a means for a trusted third party (TTP) to bind the identity of a user to a public key, so that at some later time, other entities can authenticate a public key without assistance from a trusted thud party.

The concept and utility of a digital signature was recognized several years before any practical realization was available. The first method discovered was the RSA signature scheme, which remains today one of the most practical and versatile techniques available. Subsequent research has resulted in many alternative digital signature techniques. Some offer significant advantages in terms of functionality and implementation. This chapter is an account of many of the results obtained to date, with emphasis placed on those developments which are practical.

Chapter outline

§11.2 provides terminology used throughout the chapter, and describes a framework for digital signatures that permits a useful classification of the various schemes. It is more abstract than succeeding sections. §11.3 provides an indepth discussion of the RSA signature scheme, as well as closely related techniques. Standards which have been adopted to implement RSA and related signature schemes are also considered here. §11.4 looks at methods which arise from identification protocols described in Chapter 10. Techniques based on the intractability of the discrete logarithm problem, such as the Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) and ElGamal schemes, are the topic of §11.5. One-time signature schemes, many of which arise from symmetric-key cryptography, are considered in §11.6. §11.7 describes arbitrated digital signatures and the ESIGN signature scheme. Variations on the basic concept of digital signatures, including blind, undeniable, and fail-stop signatures, are discussed in §11.8. Further notes, including subtle points on schemes documented in the chapter and variants (e.g., designated confirmer signatures, convertible undeniable signatures, group signatures, and electronic cash) may be found in §11.9.

 
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