eMudhra Blog Trust Service Provider (TSP)

Trust Service Provider: Definition, Roles and Use Case, Explained!

By eMudhra Editorial on April 14, 2023
Trust Service Provider: Definition, Roles and Use Case, Explained!

We have come a long way in the digital transformation journey. In little over a decade, identification and authentication solutions, paired with network-connected devices made it possible for e-commerce and business transactions to be done on the move. With the rise of online transactions, it's essential to have a trustworthy entity that can help individuals and businesses verify identities, sign documents, and ensure the confidentiality and integrity of information. That's where Trust Service Providers (TSPs) come into play.

In this blog post, we will explore what TSPs are, and how they operate. We will also briefly explain the concept of the root of trust and the critical role played by trust service providers. Whether you're a small business owner looking to streamline your digital transactions or a large enterprise concerned about online security, understanding the role of TSPs is crucial. So, let's dive into the world of Trust Service Providers and find out what they can do for you.

What is Trust Service Provider(TSP)?

Trust Service Providers (TSPs) are entities that offer a range of services related to electronic transactions, such as verifying identities, signing and sealing electronic documents, and ensuring the confidentiality, and non-repudiation of information. The primary role of Trust Service Providers is to ensure integrity and trust in the digital ecosystem.

The concept of TSPs emerged in the late 1990s with the advent of electronic signatures and the need for secure and reliable electronic transactions. The European Union (EU) was one of the first to recognize the importance of TSPs and introduced the Electronic Signatures Directive in 1999, which provided a legal framework for the use of electronic signatures and established the requirements for these bodies.

Since then, TSPs have become an integral part of the digital economy, with countries and regulating bodies around the world recognizing their importance and subsequently implementing laws and regulations to ensure their operation. The industry has grown significantly over the years, with many TSPs offering a wide range of services, including digital certificates, time-stamping, secure archiving, and electronic delivery.

The rise of TSPs has brought many benefits, including increased security, efficiency, and convenience in electronic transactions. As more and more businesses and individuals shift towards digital transactions, TSPs will continue to play a vital role in ensuring the integrity and reliability of these transactions.

eMudhra is a global trust service provider, intending to assist governments and enterprises from advisory to implementation to ensure project success. We specialize in offering PKI solutions for enterprises in both the public and private sectors. We at eMudhra prioritize delivering trust in the digital ecosystem through our identity-first security approach. Services offered by eMudhra can seamlessly deploy and manage trusted identities for people, devices, and services, further reinstating the information security of an organization.

As a global CA, we offer digital signatures, a comprehensive certificate lifecycle management suite, on-device key management suite, whereas our global trust services offering includes SSL certificates, IoT certificates, Code Signer Certificates, S/MIME certificates, certificates for signing and encrypting for individuals, and PKI consultation and deployment for establishing Certifying Authorities.

The eIDAS Ecosystem & Role of TSPs

Let us quickly recap the background. The eIDAS regulation came into effect in 2016 to establish a framework for electronic transactions, the primary objective of this legislation was to enable legally biding cross-border business.

The eIDAS (Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services) regulation is a European Union (EU) regulation that aims to create a single digital market by providing a common legal framework for secure and reliable electronic transactions across EU member states. The regulation lays down the rules for the provision of electronic identification (eID) and trust services and establishes the requirements for TSPs operating in the EU.

Under the eIDAS regulation, TSPs play a crucial role in providing trust services to individuals, businesses, and public sector entities. Trust Service Providers are required to comply with strict standards and undergo regular audits to ensure the security and reliability of their services.

The eIDAS ecosystem comprises three main components: the eID component, the trust services component, and the electronic seals component. The eID component enables individuals and businesses to use their electronic identities across EU member states, while the trust services component provides the legal framework for secure and reliable electronic transactions. The electronic seal component enables TSPs to create electronic seals that guarantee the integrity and authenticity of electronic documents.

In summary, TSPs play a critical role in the eIDAS ecosystem by providing trust and confidence in electronic transactions and facilitating the growth of the digital economy in Europe, which is a significant chunk of our planet. 

Definition of a Trust Service Under the EU eIDAS Regulation

Under the EU eIDAS (Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services) Regulation, a trust service is defined as "an electronic service provided normally against remuneration consisting in:

a) the creation, verification, and validation of electronic signatures, electronic seals, electronic time stamps, electronic registered delivery services and certificates related to those services; or

b) the creation, verification, and validation of certificates for website authentication; or

c) the preservation of electronic signatures, seals or certificates related to those services, or electronic documents; or

d) the provision of electronic identification means; or

e) the provision of other electronic trust services which can be provided by a trust service provider under its national law."

Use Cases For Trust Service Providers

Now that we have understood the role of TSPs and how it comes into play in securing trust in a digital landscape,  let us look at the few instances where TSP like eMudhra’s solutions are put to work.

  1. TLS/SSL certificate
  2. Secure email (SMIME certificate)
  3. User authentication
  4. Endpoint authentication (UEM/MDM)
  5. Server authentication
  6. Certificate Authorities (CAs)
  7. Certificate discovery
  8. On-premises deployments for data privacy and protection
  9. Network access control
  10. Wi-Fi device authentication
  11. Smartcard login
  12. Passwordless authentication
  13. Secure remote access with VPN

What is a Qualified Trust Service Provider(QTSP)?

A qualified trust service provider meets the strict requirements of the EU eIDAS (Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services) Regulation. This regulation sets out the rules and standards for electronic transactions within the European Union and aims to establish a trusted digital environment where electronic transactions can take place securely and with confidence. A TSP becomes a QTSP for that country if it is approved by the national supervisory body to offer one or more qualified trust services.

Differences Between QTSP and TSP

As we have discussed the role of TSPs and the definition and scope of QTSPs, let us briefly delve into the factors that differentiate these two seemingly similar entities.

The key difference between a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) and a Trust Service Provider (TSP) is the level of assurance and legal validity of their trust services.

A TSP is a general term that refers to any legal entity that provides one or more trust services under the eIDAS Regulation. On the other hand, a QTSP is a specific type of TSP that has undergone a rigorous assessment process to meet the technical and operational requirements set out in the eIDAS Regulation. They are certified to provide qualified electronic trust services, which offer a higher level of assurance and legal validity than non-qualified trust services.

Qualified trust services have specific legal effects under the eIDAS Regulation, such as being considered legally equivalent to handwritten signatures and having a higher level of evidential weight in legal proceedings. Qualified trust services also require a higher level of security and compliance with data protection regulations.

Overall, while both QTSPs and TSPs provide digital trust services, the certification of a QTSP provides a higher level of trust, assurance, and legal validity in the digital environment.

eMudhra: A Global Trust Service Provider

Providing trust services to customers, third-party vendors and enterprises can be a challenging task for TSPs since trust services are expected to be secure, accessible and compliant with regulatory legislation. At the same time, customers expect ease of doing business with flexibility.

With a comprehensive suite of solutions that facilitates certificate management, managed PKI services, digital signatures, access control and identity management; we ensure seamless data flow in the enterprise ecosystem. Our trust service solutions include signing and encryption certificates for Individuals, SSL certificates, IoT certificates and PKI solutions for setting up Certifying Authorities. eMudhra services allow customers to choose modules as per their specific use cases and can be run as a SaaS, on-prem, or a combination of both.

To know more about eMudhra’s trust services, Contact us now!

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