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W3C makes digital signature recommendation

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The World Wide Web Consortium yesterday unveiled the fruits of its unprecedented collaboration with the Internet Engineering Task Force with the publishing of XML Signature as a W3C Recommendation.

XML Signature is one of three security markup specifications the organization is building. With XML Encryption and XML Key Management, the specs are designed to give a standard way to encrypt and digitally sign elements within XML-based documents, rather than just the entire documents.

The spec outlines the standard syntax and processing rules for digitally signed XML documents. Digital signatures allow people exchanging documents to verify that data has not been tampered with when sent over public networks. When combined with XML Encryption, there will be a standard way to ensure the privacy of signed documents.

XML Signature also means data can be signed independently from the protocol "envelope" used to carry it, meaning the protocol can be changed as the data is moved about, without invalidating the signature. Because it's XML, it also means it can be implemented with many existing XML toolkits, removing the need for new software.

Not only was the working group that developed the spec a joint force of the W3C and IETF - a first for the organizations - it was also the first to have all discussions carried out publicly, leading to a "high degree of support".

Companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Sun and Baltimore provided testimonials for the W3C publication yesterday.

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