What is trusted timestamping?

Oct 7, 2021, 12:22 PM by Riaan De Villiers
What is trusted timestamping and why is it important to get a timestamp from a trusted timestamp authority?

What is trusted timestamping?

Trusted timestamping.

What is trusted timestamping and why is it so important?

A timestamp provides accurate auditable proof of the exact time a record or transaction was created, updated or deleted. The exact time of a transaction can be very handy in the case of a dispute.

Imagine this scenario, a contractor has signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with your organisation. After some time, it comes to light that the contractor has leaked sensitive information to a third-party. During the dispute the contractor argues that the information was leaked BEFORE the signing of the NDA. Your organisation’s lawyers argue that the information was leaked AFTER the NDA was signed. Who is telling the truth?

A trusted timestamp on the NDA will quickly resolve the issue. The time indicated in the timestamp will provide accurate and verifiable time of when the NDA was signed and will proof conclusively when the NDA was signed.

In a dispute as described above, a normal timestamp obtained from a user’s computer will not be enough. Any user can easily manipulate the time and date on their computer. A trusted timestamp must be supplied by a trusted third-party Timestamp Authority. Timestamp Authorities applies a verified and auditable date and time that was obtained from a Coordinated Universal Time source.

Furthermore, the timestamp is protected from tampering using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography in combination with special FIPS rated cryptographic hardware. Evidence that the trusted timestamp is valid is embedded into the timestamp. Applications, such as Adobe Reader, can automatically query the evidence in a timestamp to verify that the timestamp has not be changed maliciously or by accident.

A document with a trusted timestamp is a formidable piece of evidence that will help to resolve disputes about the time of a transaction very quickly.

Curious to know more about how a trusted timestamp is applied? Learn more from our article – How a trusted timestamp is created.

For more information see our timestamping offering.