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Viafirma: eID support on iPhone / iPad

Although we have been giving hints during the last weeks, in Viafirma we are pleased to announce that we have finished, after many months of work, the integral support of the electronic eID in iPhone smartphones and iPad tablets, with capacity of authentication and electronic signature recognized in these mobile devices. For this we have had to combine in a single Objective C mobile application the eID driver (using APDU commands, secure channel establishment, encryption, etc.) and the electronic signature client.

This achievement is seen as a revolution in the electronic signature sector. In everyday life, both personally and professionally, the use of smartphones and tablets is increasing exponentially. Therefore, the use of electronic signatures on these devices should not be left behind.

Una solución a los problemas de autenticación y firma electrónica

Leaving aside the users of Viafirma Platform integrated solutions, few users can authenticate and sign electronically without problems in Linux, macOS X, or with iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone… without having to send the certificate to any centralized platform to be signed by a server.

Including eID support on iPhone and iPad now, and Android coming soon, will help not only to empower electronic signatures, but also to effectively encourage the use of eID. Based on my personal case, the user experience and usability of eID is much better on iPhone and iPad than on a conventional computer. This is one of the weaknesses of the current model; however, using the eID on our smartphone or tablet is as easy as connecting the reader, inserting the card and entering the PIN when prompted.

Características de este logro

  • It uses a reader that is inserted into the dock port of the iPhone / iPad. This reader has been developed in conjunction with a manufacturer who has proceeded to acquire the various security certifications (FIPS, etc.), and will have a fairly low cost (although it is too early to say for sure, a reasonable order of magnitude could be 29 €). We had previously experimented with some Bluetooth readers compatible with BlackBerry and some Android, but their price (200 – 300 €) made us think of a realistic unfeasibility of the project.
  • The reader is truly mobile: small in size and aesthetically pleasing. It is just another peripheral of your smartphone or tablet. The reader has already been recognized by Apple and is compatible (and tested) on iOS 4, iOS 5.0 and 5.1.
  • We have been working with prototypes together with our manufacturer, but the reader could be available within one to two months.
  • The signature is done 100% locally on the mobile or tablet. Although this is obvious, because it is impossible to get the private key out of the DNIe, we have considered this fact appropriate. For this we have relied on the advanced mobile signature technology Viafirma already existing since 2010 for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone platforms.
  • The level of mobile qualified electronic signature is achieved by using a secure signature creation device.
  • The system is 100% plug & play. There is no need to install anything on the mobile, apart from the latest version of the Viafirma mobile application. This application takes care of all the cryptographic operations, acting both as a driver and as a recognized electronic signature “applet” that runs locally on the device.
  • We have several readers available and can perform on-site demonstrations right away, you can use your own electronic ID cards to test the operation!
  • Any application integrated with Viafirma Platform, either web application or native mobile application, will have DNIe support in iPhone and iPad without the need of any additional development. It is very easy to include authentication and electronic signature functionalities with DNIe in iPhone / iPad in your web or iOS application.
  • Our development will be published as soon as possible as an update of our iOS mobile client Viafirma, which already allows advanced and local electronic signature in any application integrated with Viafirma Platform.
  • All the logic is in the native application, which interacts with our platform to perform validation, verification, timestamping, custody operations… therefore, for the moment it would only work with solutions integrated with our Viafirma Platform. However, it is technically possible to build native bridges / clients for other solutions such as @Firma (aFirma), etc.
  • We have developed for the eID, but it is technically possible to extend the use to other types of cryptographic cards / smartcards.

Caso de uso de una petición de firma

In our Youtube channel we have published some videos of electronic signature on iPad and iPhone with our eID, and we intend to continue publishing more in the coming days and weeks. In this case, we have recorded a use case consisting of a signature request for two signers in our Viafirma Inbox portafirmas platform.

Signers proceed to sign with their eID on an iPad and an iPhone. Let’s watch both videos:

We also want to announce that the reader we are using will be compatible in the medium term with Android devices of versions 3.1 or higher, as it will have a miniUSB port that can be connected to the USB host of the Android smartphone or tablet. Thus, we will also be able to make mobile electronic signature with smart cards and eID on Android devices. We will keep you informed.


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