Entrust Certificate Services Support Knowledge Base

Audience: General
Last Modified: 2014-09-15 15:51:38.0

TN 7780 - What is Certified Document Services

What is Certified Document Services?

Certified Document Services (CDS) is the first digital signing solution that allows authors to create Adobe® PDF files that automatically certify to the recipient that the author's identity has been verified by a trusted organization  and that the document has not been altered in any way. A blue ribbon and information bar at the top of the screen indicate this trust when the document is opened.



Who can benefit?

Organizations that communicate critical information to broad audiences, such as financial services organizations and government agencies, are struggling to deal with increasing trends — from phishing to document forgery — that can erode customer confidence and cause liability issues. Now with CDS, individuals and organizations can send certified Adobe PDF documents and forms with added assurance of identity validation and information integrity.

Examples include:

  • Financial services and research organizations that publish valuable analyst reports
  • Government organizations that publish policies, legislation, forms, and other critical documents
  • Manufacturing organizations that publish manuals, operating documents, and other critical documents
  • Public companies that publish financial documents

What's new about CDS?

CDS is the first broad implementation of document validation technology based on public key infrastructures (PKIs), and now anyone using Adobe Reader® or Acrobat® (version 6.0 or later) software can easily take advantage of it. While digital signatures have been available for a while, a service that automatically certifies documents from a trusted authority is new. With non-CDS signatures, a user must explicitly "trust" the author of a document. With CDS signatures, trust is built into Adobe Reader and Acrobat — no additional software download or configuration is required by the recipient of a certified document to validate its authenticity.

CDS signatures help ensure best practices and the highest level of document integrity because the user's digital credentials must be stored on a cryptographic hardware device, and they must be issued by a WebTrust certified authority using strict verification guidelines. See the CDS Certificate Policy statement.

Who's using CDS?

A number of entities across a wide range of industries — including higher education, bio-pharmaceutical, regulatory, standards, and government — are currently using CDS certificates to assure recipients that their documents came from a trusted source. One key success story is Pennsylvania State University. Penn State is using a CDS solution developed by Adobe's partners to certify their electronic transcripts.

One issue of critical concern to Penn State officials was the proliferation of fake diplomas and falsified transcripts — annual sales of which total more than US$100 million worldwide. The falsified transcripts have become so advanced that they include watermarks, metallic strips, and other identifiers typically associated with helping to prevent fraud. With the prevalence of fraudulent transcripts on the rise, Penn State needed a reliable way to validate that transcripts came from the school's secure system and were not tampered with by anyone. Otherwise, Penn State could not provide electronic transcript services.

The group decided that CDS with Adobe LiveCycle® Digital Signatures software and digital IDs provided the requisite capabilities. When recipients open a certified PDF transcript in either Reader or Acrobat, a validation message is displayed. If the certification was applied with a CDS digital ID the message provides assurance that the transcript came from Penn State and that its contents have not been changed. This offers peace of mind for the alumnus, school administrators, and the recipient. If a transcript was altered, an error or warning message appears as soon as the file is opened.

Penn State expects a quick return on investment. Staff once dedicated to printing and mailing transcripts can now focus on other student services such as handling student payments and issues with class schedules. At the same time, the university's printing and mailing costs can be decreased by tens of thousands of dollars annually. And alumni benefit from near-instant delivery of transcripts to intended recipients, without having to pay extra delivery charges for overnight shipping.

Desktop-based document certification

Documents can be certified in client- and server-based workflows. In a client environment, a CDS provider issues a digital credential to an individual or an organizational role, which is stored on a USB token or smart card. The individual then uses Acrobat or Reader to sign the document.

Server-based document certification

Adobe LiveCycle Digital Signatures ES software allows organizations to quickly certify and validate large volumes of Adobe PDF files, such as bank statements or financial reports. In this case, a CDS provider issues an organization a digital credential, which is stored on a server-based key management system for added protection. The credential is accessed by LiveCycle Digital Signatures ES to apply the digital signature. The PDF file automatically validates when opened in Reader or Acrobat (version 6.0 or later).

How does my organization enroll in CDS?

You can visit https://buy.entrust.net/buy/index.cfm to start the enrollment process.

Affected Products:

  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Group CDS for HSM Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Group CDS with Token (automatic) Intl Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Group CDS with Token (automatic) Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Group CDS with Token (manual) International Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Group CDS with Token (manual) Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Individual CDS with Token International Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable
  • Entrust Certificate Services 3 year Individual CDS with Token Version Not Applicable Language Not Applicable Platform Not Applicable