How long does a timestamp seal “last”?

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Whenever we present Universign, we’re often asked how long timestamping protection lasts. an estimated resistance to counterfeiting of around twenty years.

Baring any major technological breakthroughs that enable the corruption of the timestamping algorithms used or an obvious failure on the part of the timestamping authority, once a document is timestamped you will be able to legally prove for a period of around twenty years that you were in possession of it at the moment it was timestamped and that it has not been modified since.

However, for regulatory reasons related to our timestamping policy, the automatic verification by any third party of a timestamping seal associated with a document is limited in time. The rules of the regulatory frameworks in which we operate require us to limit the lifespan of the public information that enables a third party to validate a timestamp. For this reason, Universign guarantees that the validation of a timestamping seal associated with a document will be automatic and feasible by any third party for a period of five years after it is issued.

During this period, you can use any software on the market compatible with the timestamping protocol defined in the IETF RFC 3161 standard (and used by Universign) to verify your timestamp seal. Of course, you can also use our service by uploading a document that has already been timestamped using the timestamping web interface. If the document was correctly timestamped, the status bar will display the message “Intact” along with the date and time of the timestamp, as shown in the image below :

After five years, depending on the procedures they use, a third party may no longer have the means to verify a timestamping seal automatically but may still be able to do so on a semi-manual basis. However, the Universign validation interface enables the automatic revalidation of seals issued by Universign itself, as long as no technological breakthroughs have caused the algorithms used to fail, for a period estimated at around fifteen years.

The diagram below offers a summary of the different scenarios:

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