How are Online Documents Certified?

Certify Documents Online

Given the increase in the number of fake documents circulating in the economy, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to check whether a shared or submitted electronic document is original or has been tampered with. But certifying documents can take care of the issue and assure individuals of their legitimacy.

Wondering how to certify online documents? More importantly, where to certify documents? Let’s understand.

How to Certify Documents Online?

Generally, printouts of electronic documents are attested by the holder of the documents and countersigned by trusted third parties, like police officers and attorneys. Note that this form of online certification of documents holds the holder of the document responsible for the contents of the file.

While a passable practice, this form of certification can’t withstand the sophisticated methods applied by fraudsters. None would be the wiser if the document’s contents are altered.

Such problems can be solved with the help of tamper proof documents, like verifiable credentials. Being tamper proof in blockchain, these immutable documents make it impossible to alter the contents without leaving a digital trail. Let’s explain.

When a digital certificate is issued and stored on the blockchain, a unique hash value is assigned to it. Think of this unique hash value as the document’s fingerprint (in the digital world). This makes the original files practically immune to unwarranted (or warranted) alterations and modifications.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that the contents of a verifiable credential can’t be modified once it’s issued. It simply means that the hash value of the document will change upon the smallest edit. Yes, even if you fix a few punctuation errors, the grammatically-correct version will be assigned a new hash value.

Since the hash value will keep on changing each time a change is made to the document, the original remains preserved. In fact, it can’t be deleted, either — not even by the owner of the document. This ensures that a document whose hash value is submitted to a blockchain network achieves immutable status.

Now, it may happen that bad actors edit the contents of the file offline, not triggering the generation of a new unique hash value. Even in such scenarios, there’s no changing the original version of the document and a simple comparison between the presented document and its original version will clear things up for all parties involved.

While this is a nifty way to keep verifiable credentials safe and secure from the reaches of fraudsters, it may trigger some confusion. Drawing from our previous example. Suppose you — the issuer of a document — fix the grammatical errors in the file after sharing it with the holder. Now, if you store the modified document’s hash value on the blockchain, the difference would be obvious to all the parties involved. In fact, it might make verifiers believe that they aren’t viewing the legitimate version of the document.

Enter ProofEasy. The patented blockchain and QR code platform makes it even easier to verify the stored documents. Wondering how? Besides employing the hash value technology, the solution disperses the confusion in the verification process by showing all authorized parties a document’s version history, meaning when it was issued, by who, and the subsequent modifications (if any) made to the document. The simple feature perpetuates an environment of trust and transparency. Plus, electronic signatures make document certification easier and simpler.

Want to issue verifiable credentials for your organization? Sign up on ProofEasy today!