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Digital Signature Standard (DSS)

The Digital Signature Standard (DSS) is a suite of algorithms that the US federal government has approved for generating and verifying a digital signature. It sets minimum standards for a digital signature, and those implementing a Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) are required to do so in compliance with the benchmarks set forth by DSS.

DSS is a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) established and announced in 1994 and revised most recently in July 2013 in FIPS PUB 186-4. Alongside an approved hash function specified in the guidance, the guidance identifies DSA, RSA, and ECDSA as approved symmetric algorithms for digital signature generation and verification.

Digital signatures are used to authenticate message recipients and to detect whether information exchanged has been unaltered. Going further, the recipient of digitally signed data can present signed information to a third party as evidence that it has not been modified, known as non-repudiation since such a claim is unassailable. Digital signatures are commonplace in financial transactions, delivery of proprietary software, and contracts. 


“Having a standard in place to establish what constitutes a valid digital signature is crucial to the commercial sphere, in particular for financial transactions and contracts. Using DSS-approved algorithms, then, has revolutionized commerce by making online engagements as authenticate and enforceable as in-person business dealings.”