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NIS-2 directive and digital signatures: a step towards greater security in the digital world

Vanessa Frühbeiss
Updated on 26.06.2024

Increasing digitalization not only brings benefits, but also new challenges in the area of cyber security. The European Union is responding to this with the NIS-2 Directive, which aims to strengthen the security of network and information systems. But time is of the essence: The implementation of the NIS-2 Directive is nearing completion. All EU member states must transpose the directive into national law by October 2024, when it will finally become binding. For many companies, this means the introduction of stricter security requirements. What role does the digital signature play in this and how can it support your company's cyber security strategy?

What is the NIS-2 Directive?

The NIS-2 Directive (Network and Information Security Directive) is the revised version of the original NIS Directive and aims to further improve cyber security within the EU. It expands the scope of application and tightens the requirements in order to better counter current threats. A central element of NIS-2 is ensuring the integrity and authenticity of data as well as the traceability and security of transactions.

Specific requirements of the NIS-2 directive

The NIS-2 directive contains several important requirements , including

  • Risk management: introduction of risk assessment and mitigation measures.
  • Mandatory reporting: obligation to report security incidents within 24 hours.
  • Cybersecurity measures: Implementation of measures to protect network and information systems.

The importance of digital signatures for the NIS-2 Directive

Legally binding

Digital signatures provide a legally binding way to authenticate transactions and communications. This is particularly important in digital administration and in collaboration between different organizations. Contracts and agreements can thus be concluded electronically in a legally binding and secure manner, reducing paperwork and speeding up business processes.

Compliance and audit

The NIS-2 directive places high demands on compliance with regulations and the ability to demonstrate this compliance. Digital signatures play a central role here. By using digital signatures, organizations can prove that they meet the requirements of NIS-2, especially with regard to the traceability and security of data. Digital signatures make it possible to clearly assign each transaction to a sender and guarantee its integrity, which facilitates verification and auditing.

Digital signatures: More than just electronic signatures

Digital signatures are much more than simple electronic signatures. They are cryptographic tools that fulfill two essential functions:

  • Authenticity: they make it possible to verify the origin of documents or messages. This means that the recipient of a digitally signed document can be sure who the sender is.
  • Integrity: They guarantee that the contents of a document have not been manipulated after signing. Any change would invalidate the signature and be immediately recognizable.
Technical background

Digital signatures are based on the public key infrastructure (PKI), which uses two pairs of keys: a private key for signing and a public key for verifying the signature. This technology ensures that only the holder of the private key can sign a document, while anyone with the public key can verify the signature.

Examples from practice

Some industries are already successfully using digital signatures to meet the NIS-2 requirements:

  • Financial sector: banks and financial institutions use digital signatures to ensure the authenticity of online transactions.
  • Healthcare: Hospitals and clinics use digital signatures to ensure the secure exchange of patient data.
  • Public administration: Public authorities use digital signatures for secure communication and document exchange.

Advantages beyond compliance

In addition to meeting NIS-2 requirements, digital signatures offer further advantages:

  • Cost savings: Reduction of paperwork and associated costs.
  • Time savings: Acceleration of business processes through immediate availability and verification of documents.
  • Environmental friendliness: Reduction of paper consumption contributes to environmental protection.

A look into the future

The NIS-2 directive and the increased use of digital signatures mark a significant step towards a more secure digital world. In times where digital communication and transactions dominate everyday life, ensuring authenticity and integrity is crucial. Organizations that implement digital signatures are better equipped to meet the coming cyber security challenges and comply with the requirements of the NIS-2 directive.

Digital signatures offer not only security, but also efficiency and legal compliance. They are an indispensable tool for the future of digital communication and transactions. The NIS-2 Directive and the use of digital signatures are therefore decisive steps towards a more secure digital infrastructure in Europe.

sproof sign is the highest-rated provider in the e-signature category on the independent evaluation platform OMR Reviews for Q3 and Q4 2023, as well as Q1 2024.