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A World with High Integrity Digital Transactions: Announcing Proof Certificates

Today, we are introducing a program that makes transactions notarized through Proof the safest and most trustworthy in the industry: the Proof Digital Certificate. We've taken another step forward in securing the digital signature of all notaries. 
Darren Louie
April 22, 2024

While AI and deepfakes have captured the public imagination as posing the most danger to online transactions, signature fraud actually deserves greater attention. Determining the authenticity of a signature on a document and ensuring that notarial acts are conducted lawfully should be of the highest importance. 

In the non-digital world, this is why notaries lock their stamp in a drawer or an actual safe. If somebody gets hold of a notary’s stamp, they can forge the notary’s signature and seal, threatening the whole foundation and purpose of notarization. The ramifications and liability stemming from such fraud can be devastating. Americans are losing their own property due to fraud because it’s all too easy to forge a notary signature on paper.

At Proof, our mission is to bring trust to every transaction. Today, we are introducing a very important program that makes transactions notarized through Proof the safest and most trustworthy in the industry: the Proof Digital Certificate. With this introduction, we've taken another step forward in securing the digital signature of all notaries. 

The Importance of Digital Certificates 

A digital certificate is a unique private key assigned to an individual, enabling them to digitally sign a document using cryptography. Digital certificates allow the bytes of a document to be verified to ensure the signature and underlying document has not been tampered with. 

A type of fraud happens when a digital certificate gets into unauthorized hands, enabling the replication of a user or notary’s signature and the forging of signatures and notarizations. The gravity of this problem, like the theft of a notary’s physical stamp, has the potential to cause significant loss and liability. Documents requiring notarization are usually sensitive - relied upon during life’s most important moments - so it is easy to imagine the potential for damage if a digital certificate were compromised and then exploited. In this way, just like a misplaced stamp could lead to forgery, a compromised digital certificate can bring about serious losses. 

Proof Digital Certificates take the next step toward ensuring trust and security in every transaction. Proof notaries can ‘lock’ their digital certificates, just as they would safeguard their physical stamp. This marks a new standard for security and trust in electronic transactions.

This elevated standard comes after years of notaries navigating the cumbersome process of acquiring digital certificates from third-party providers. Not only is this task fraught with technical intricacies and fragmented communication between multiple companies, but storing these certificates on personal computers poses significant security risks. Despite being uploaded to RON platforms, certificates often linger on desktops which themselves are vulnerable to theft and misuse. As businesses increasingly rely on digital solutions, the imperative for secure and user-friendly practices has thus become ever more apparent. 

Up until now, it's been up to the person in possession of the notarized document to accept the risk if they should trust a notary’s signature. For this reason, Adobe displays a yellow warning sign in documents to indicate that the signature process has not been audited to meet specific security standards. As a result,the party receiving the document must do their due diligence or trust the notary, assuming the risk. .

Discover the Enhanced Safety of Proof Digital Certificates 

At Proof, we believe that achieving trust in every transaction is our biggest responsibility. Proof verifies a notary’s identity to meet federal security standards (NIST IAL2) in order to issue a digital certificate. In addition to that, our certificates are objectively more secure than other notary platforms and exceed every state's notarization requirements. Proof is the first notary platform that has been certified by an independent third-party auditor to meet WebTrust standards. This is why our signatures will be distinguishable with a green checkmark in Adobe, instead of the yellow mark that appears without such a certification. The green check is a trust mark that provides reassurance, letting parties know that the notary’s signature is real.

Proof’s digital certificates are stored in the cloud with layers of security to make it difficult to hack. These are no ordinary servers: certificates are generated and stored with specialized servers that have hardware security modules (HSMs) which are FIPS 140-3 Level 2 compliant. These devices have been designed to meet rigorous industry standards, in order to prevent tampering or penetration by malware. The keys never leave the secure boundaries of our cloud to keep them from being exported, opened, or modified. These HSMs provide the same security for the backbone of the internet, and it’s the same technology that is used to store encryption keys that allow us to communicate securely online. 

Most importantly, Proof’s platform has been certified to meet WebTrust standards, the toughest standard for managing cryptographic keys for the internet. . The WebTrust standards define how to operate and manage public key infrastructure (PKI). They cover everything from technology requirements to operational controls. They check the physical security of the data center, all the way down to the encryption protocols used. In addition, we  provide auditors with quality control audits every 90 days to provide evidence of our good standing. 

We have gone to extreme lengths to secure our platform. Unsurprisingly, not many companies have been able to achieve this standard and be included on Adobe’s trust list (AATL). Proof is the first notary platform to be trusted by Adobe, and it is regularly chosen as the trusted platform in many industries, like financial services and real estate. 

Advancing the Industry Standard

Proof’s digital certificates have set a new, higher standard for safety and security for electronic transactions. Why did we go to such lengths to protect every notarization? It’s simple. We feel that it is our responsibility to uphold the reputation of all notaries. If the public loses faith in the notary seal, it would devastate all the commerce that relies on notaries. If it becomes easy to fake a digital document, then businesses and consumers will lose all trust in so many of the industries and transactions that depend on notarization. Notaries will no longer have the privilege of providing a secure, digital solution for their customers. 

We believe that all platforms should meet these same standards .  When signature forgery takes place, on any platform, it puts the reputation of the entire industry at risk. We therefore invite other notary platforms to join us. We will be sharing our expertise and publishing white papers to help other platforms achieve this new, higher standard. We welcome this engagement and cooperation because we want the industry as a whole to prosper. 

Proof has helped pass remote online notarization (RON) legislation in more than 40 states, and we believe that it is our responsibility to not only help guide future policy but also to be the leader in how remote online notarization can be improved with technology. 

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