Please E-Sign Here: EU Cybersecurity Agency Finds Online Document Verification Services Secure


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Only one out of the 28 European Union countries reported a cybersecurity incident involving electronic document verification service providers in the second half of 2016, the EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) recently reported. ENISA evaluated incident reporting procedures under the EU Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulation. The annual report only covers six months since the eIDAS went into effect in July 2016. 

Electronic signatures and other methods to verify documents online are becoming increasingly important, as consumers move away from paper documents and adopt electronic versions. Instead of mailing checks, driving to malls, and visiting an accountant, people use computers and other internet-connected devices to pay bills, go shopping, file taxes, and perform other traditionally non-digital tasks. Ensuring that people engaging in these electronic transaction are who they say they are is a priority, particularly as cybercriminals come up with more sophisticated scams.

The EU regulation includes rules for trust services providers—companies that handle electronic signatures, time stamps, electronic seals, and other methods for verifying documents—and governs the use of trust services by consumers, businesses, and agencies to manage electronic transactions or access online services. 

A single electronic document verification cybersecurity incident in six months must mean that trust service providers in the EU have outstanding cybersecurity measures, right? Not so much. 

According to the ENISA report, legislative delays and the absence of supervisory bodies in some EU countries may have resulted in an under-reporting of cybersecurity incidents. Additionally, incidents may have fallen below the significant event threshold for reporting, ENISA said in the report. Under the eIDAS Regulation, reportable security incidents include “any breach of security or loss of integrity that has a significant impact on the trust service provided or on the personal data maintained therein.” Other incidents may have been excluded because they occurred in a closed system, which is outside the scope of the regulation, ENISA said.

ENISA is also focused on cybersecurity issues related to the exploding universe of devices connected to the web. As businesses and consumers increasingly rely on such internet of things devices, cybersecurity and privacy issues must be addressed at the initial design stage. 

A separate ENISA report provides baseline security recommendations for IoT devices used in critical information infrastructure—networks, facilities, services, and physical and information technology equipment. 

The report called for a “strong holistic approach” to harmonize IoT regulations and security initiatives, define secure hardware and software development lifecycle guidelines, and clarify liability among various IoT stakeholders.

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