Back in 2005, Adobe unveiled the Certified Document Services (CDS) program, which automatically trusts new digital IDs that are chained to (part of the family of) the Adobe Root certificate embedded in Adobe products. Anybody who opens a PDF document signed or certified by a CDS credential automatically gets a “blue ribbon” with trust provided to the signature without any user interaction.
Lately, I’ve had many people ask me why they would use Adobe CDS signing certificates instead of one of many other methods to sign PDF documents…why not;
- Use a publicly trusted user certificate?
- Use a privately trusted user certificate?
- Use a certificate supported by the Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL)
So, for starters, I ask our customers what they are looking for….do you want people outside your organization (the general public) to trust the digital signature? If it’s just for internal users, and you don’t care about the visual indicator within the PDF format then perhaps privately trusted certificates are fine for signing your documents. But if you do want the public to trust the digital signature, then you need a publicly trusted certificate…but not just any publicly trusted certificate…you need one where the root certificate is embedded inside Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader. That way, the document recipient can trace the root of trust and know that the signature is valid and trusted.
Now think about the dynamics of your recipient population….do your users all have Adobe Acrobat or Reader v9 or greater? If not, then you need to use Adobe CDS certificates, because the root of trust is embedded in Adobe all the way back to Adobe Acrobat and Reader v6. That means that upwards of 99% of your likely recipient population will be able to validate and trust the digital signature, and when it comes right down to what you want, it means that more people will trust and therefore read the material you intend for them.
More flexibility, more trust, happier partners and customers!
PS. By the way, Entrust sells Adobe CDS certificates for a variety of scenarios, from individual signing to organizational automated signing processes. See our web site