The environment is a Windows domain. Windows Server 2003 is the controller and all clients are running WinXP or better. Office 2003 (2007 soon) is used to create most documents.

What I'm looking for is a way to electronically sign documents. Self-certification, I believe, would be fine.

I guess I really don't know anything about this and am having trouble finding a starting point. In my perfect scenario, when I create a user in the system a digital signature (cert, or whatever) would also be created, which could then be used by the new user to sign documents with as little trouble as possible.

Can someone educate me a bit here? What do I need to learn, and where can I learn it?


What you are looking for is a Public Key Infrastructure. Here are the components provided by Microsoft for PKI:

•Certificate Authority (CA) •Certificate Revocation Lists (CRL) •Active Directory (AD) – store for certificates •Internet Information Services (IIS) – enrollment – a method of requesting and installing certificates. This is a component Windows certificate management

Within Windows itself, the only things you can use the Windows PKI implementation for are the following:

•Secure web servers •Secure email •Application signatures (i.e. Signed drivers or ActiveX controls) •Encrypted File Systems (EFS) recovery agents •Smart Card Logins •setup IPSec between two machines from different domains

Wayne mentioned GPG- which as far as I can tell doesn't generate a cert it simply encrypts files. Encryption is not the same as signing. (although encrypted files are usually signed)

Take a look at:

General PKI Planning Considerations Public Key Infrastructure in Windows Server 2003

1: http://General PKI Planning Considerations


Have a look at GPG it can sign the documents for you.

If you have development skills or put a tender out you could create a front end to this by using an application that manages this for the user or have a central website that authenticates the user and allows them to upload a document that gets digitally signed and email to the appropriate list.

There are also commercial programs (eg: ELock Pro Signer) that can provide your requirements as a desktop application.

If you converted your documents to PDF then Adobe Acrobat already supports digital signing.

Update: gpg --sign document will sign the document and create a file called document.gpg. You can then use gpg --verify document.gpg

You can also use Office 2007 that supports signatures. Click Orb->Prepare->Add Digital Signature. See This Link and Official MS Link

  • GPG looks like it doed PGP not signing- or can it generate certs? – Jim B Jul 31 '09 at 19:40
  • GPG does do digital signatures. If it's not working, it might not be the right kind of signatures though (I believe there are different digital signature standards, but I don't know the details). – David Z Jul 31 '09 at 20:02
  • Can you point me to where it generates certs? I've looked annd I can't find it anywhere- it seems to be an implementation of pgp- which has nothing to do with digital signatures – Jim B Aug 1 '09 at 23:21

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