The Validator of the Federal Administration was developed and made available by the Federal Office of Justice in 2008 in connection with the introduction of electronically signed extracts from the register of convictions. The Validator service operated by the Swiss federal government is intended to strengthen trust in electronically signed documents by allowing their authenticity and the validity of the signature to be easily checked in accordance with Swiss law.
In the case of an electronically signed extract from the register of convictions, for example, the Validator checks the following:
1. Does the extract from the register of convictions have a qualified signature and a valid time stamp?
2. Has it been signed with a certificate intended for this purpose by the person responsible for the register of convictions?
Verification of an electronic signature, which can also be done with tools such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, has in this way been extended to include the dimension of verifying the authenticity of the document. The aim of the Validator is to give even laypersons the possibility to determine the validity of a document and the signatures contained therein in a simple but secure way.
The Validator is offered in two application forms:
1. As a Web Validator, in which the document to be validated can be uploaded and checked using a standard web browser. This application form is available to everyone (i.e. all citizens, but also companies) free of charge.
2. As a Discreet Validator, in which a secure connection is established from a specialist application to the Validator via a Java client. Only the hash value of the document to be validated and the extraction of the electronic signature(s) are transmitted in this way, not the actual document itself. Hence the term "Discreet" Validator.
The Discreet Validator is available to the Federal Administration but also to the cantons (and communes). For this purpose, the cantons (and communes) conclude a user agreement with eOperations Switzerland, which acts as their single point of contact.
The Discreet Validator can also be provided to third-party companies that operate software solutions for the Federal Administration or the cantons (and communes) on their behalf.
How does the web version of the Validator of the Federal Administration work?
- The user accesses the Validator,
- uploads the document to be validated, and
- activates the validation process.
With the new eGov Signature Validator, it is no longer necessary to select a specific document type from a pull-down menu before uploading the document, as was the case with the previous version. Instead, the eGov Signature Validator is now able to determine the document type itself using context-based validation and to validate it applying the corresponding validation rules stored in the Validator.
The Validator displays the result of the validation procedure and, if required, provides a detailed validation report for viewing or downloading.
Processing of the document by the Validator is limited to calculating the cryptographic hash value of the document, as well as extracting the signatures contained in the document with the attached certificates. For each electronic signature in the document, the Validator then checks whether:
- the hash value matches the signature,
- the time stamp is valid (if a time stamp is required for this type of signature),
- the certificate included in the signature was valid at the time of the signature,
- the certificate corresponds to the selected document type automatically determined by the validator’s logic;
- the document has been altered since it was electronically signed (and the electronic signature has accordingly been "broken")
and then creates a validation report that can be displayed online or downloaded as a PDF.
Attention: Only if all documents included in the document correspond to the deposited type of document is the document deemed by the Validator to be validly signed.
Example: In the case of the document type for qualified electronic signatures (QES), all electronic signatures contained in the document must be qualified, provided with a qualified time stamp, and valid in order for the document to be deemed valid. Even if only a single signature in the document is invalid or does not correspond to the assigned document type, the entire document is deemed to be invalidly signed. In the detailed validation report, the validation result is shown for each signature identified.
Note on data protection
Documents uploaded via the web browser to be checked by the Validator are not stored permanently by the system, nor are the contents and metadata of validated documents registered in system logs.
All data involved in the machine validation process (uploaded document, the signatory's certificate, and validation report) are kept or generated in the random access memory of the Validator during the validation process. To gain knowledge of the content of the uploaded document, someone would have to overcome major technical hurdles to penetrate the Validator at the exact moment that the document is being processed and create an image of the random access memory. All data traffic with the Validator is encrypted (SSL) and can therefore hardly be intercepted by third parties.