A Web-Based Tutorial on Digital Signatures

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Chapter 1
1.1 Motivation
After having studied a module on eBusiness and having briefly touched on some of the security
issues, I became intrigued by security measures, especially digital signatures. Digital signatures
represent the next step in a growing world of uncertainty where certain individuals or groups are
dishonest and corrupt, whose intention may be to modify data without authorisation or to impersonate
someone else. The School of Computing at The University of Leeds briefly explains digital
signatures, but does not go into any great detail about this new up-and-coming technology. As digital
signatures become more widespread, there will be a need for people to understand the technologies
involved in the implementation of digital signatures. This project seeks to explain the operation of
digital signatures via the construction of a robust, fully working implementation of a teaching aid.
There are no teaching aids at present on digital signatures. The implementation of the teaching aid
will hopefully bridge the gap between the layman and these sometimes-complex technologies,
explaining the operation of a digital signature.
1.2 Project Overview
This project will explain the various technologies involved in the operation of digital signatures, with
the aim to design and construct a robust, fully working implementation of a teaching aid that
demonstrates the operation of a digital signature.
Chapter 1 will define the project aim and minimum requirements, deliverables and suggested
enhancements. Any changes to the minimum requirements, deliverables and suggested enhancements
will also be explained here. The schedule of the project will be outlined with any necessary revisions.
An evaluation plan will be devised as a means of evaluating the whole project. A methodology for the
project will also be described, as a method of creating a framework for the project.
Chapter 2 will include an in-depth review of the technologies involved in the implementation of
digital signatures: cryptography, public key infrastructures (PKIs) and data integrity The
aforementioned topics will all feature in the teaching aid. Finally, there will be an assessment of
similar systems already in place.
Chapter 3 will look at the requirements analysis of the system with a detailed look at the contents of
the system, system requirements and selection of an appropriate web-authoring tool.

Chapter 4 will look at the design aspects of the system, with particular reference to the content,
interface, layout, navigation, colours, pictures, interactivity and platform of the system.
Chapter 5 will look at the implementation of the system, with regards to the interface appearance,
system navigation and system testing.
Chapter 6 will provide recommendations for future projects and Chapter 7 will evaluate the whole
1.3 Project Aim
The aim of this project is to design and construct a robust, fully working implementation of a teaching
aid that demonstrates the operation of a digital signature.
1.4 Original Minimum Requirements, Deliverables and Suggested Enhancements
In order to fulfil the aim of this project, the following minimum requirements should be achieved:
1. The demo should clearly explain the various components of the system e.g. what is
cryptographic hashing and what is happening during cryptographic hashing.
2. The demo should be capable of running without problems on a lecture room PC and on
the workstations provided for undergraduate teaching.
3. The demo should be a self-explanatory teaching aid, not merely a technical
The deliverable for this project is a piece of software demonstrating the operation of a digital
The suggested enhancements are to write a literary report on:
· The current standards and implementations of digital signatures.
· The worldwide legislation concerning digital signatures.
1.5 Revised Minimum Requirements, Deliverables and Suggested Enhancements
The original minimum requirements and deliverable stayed the same, but the suggested enhancements
changed in the light of new circumstances. After further research, it was decided that the original
enhancements covered too much material to be included in the limited space of this project. A new
topic that covered less material would be included, replacing the original enhancements. The new
topic would be concerned with the ‘technical issues’ pertaining to digital signatures. The ‘technical issues’ should be included in the tutorial, as well as in a literary report, in order to increase the users
understanding of digital signatures.
Another enhancement would be to include an interactive quiz at the end of the tutorial as a means of
determining whether the user has learnt anything about digital signatures. A scoring system could be
implemented so that users could see their results immediately and judge how well they’ve done.
These results could then be stored in a file, so that they can be tracked and analysed to see whether
users of the tutorial are learning anything about digital signatures.
1.6 Original Project Schedule
The original project schedule consisted of four milestones. After the minimum requirements were
gathered in January, the background research was to be gathered during January and February,
completing the first milestone. The background research would then be written in March, after which
the 1st section of the project report would be complete and another milestone attained. The next stage
would be to design and implement the tutorial, which would lead to the construction of the tutorial
and the completion of the penultimate milestone. The final milestone would be to complete the
project, which would be accomplished after the write up and evaluation.

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