Casting a Wider Trust Net: Announcing the Adobe Approved Trust List

PostsThe Archives

Over the years, Adobe has made electronic documents and workflows easier, more efficient, and more secure.  With one of the leading implementations of electronic signatures on the market, Adobe products allow you to go the last mile by eliminating the need to print a document out just to sign it.  At the same time, we’ve also been busy behind the scenes working on ways to better deliver trust in those electronic and digital signatures so users can rely fully on these new workflows.  Today, we’re announcing the launch of our latest trust effort, the Adobe Approved Trust List…available now.

The AATL will allow millions of users around the world to create digital signatures that are trusted whenever the signed document is opened in Acrobat or Reader 9.0 and above.  Essentially, both Acrobat and Reader have been programmed to reach out to an Adobe-hosted web page to periodically download a list of trusted root digital certificates.  Any digital signature created with a credential that can trace a relationship (‘chain’) back to a certificate on this list will be trusted by our products.  Trust is only one of many questions Adobe products ask when validating an electronic signature, but it is a critical one.

[SCM]actwin,12,0,1700,927;Beta AATL Test Document.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended  Acrobat.exe  5/21/2009 , 5:40:46 PM

[SCM]actwin,12,0,1700,926;Beta AATL Test Document.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended  Acrobat.exe  5/21/2009 , 5:39:46 PM

Document Before AATL

Document After AATL

Several countries and organizations have already placed their ‘trust’ in the AATL:

  • DigiNotar
    • DigiNotar Qualified CA
  • GBO.Overheid – Netherlands
    • Staat der Nederlanden Root CA – with Certificate Policies defining secure hardware
    • Staat der Nederlanden Root CA – G2 – with Certificate Policies defining secure hardware
  • GlobalSign
    • DocumentSign CA
  • Keynectis
    • ICS CA
  • SwissSign
    • SwissSign Platinum CA — G2
  • TC Trustcenter / ChosenSecurity
    • CA 7:PN
    • CA 8:PN
  • US Federal Common Policy Root
    • Common Policy – 2010 expiry @  Common Hardware, Common High, Medium HW CBP
    • Common Policy – 2027 expiry @  Common Hardware, Common High, Medium HW CBP
  • VeriSign
    • Class 3 Intermediate Non-Federal SSP @ Medium-Hardware

Starting today, valid signatures with credentials from these providers, chaining up to these certificates, and meeting a set of Technical Requirements will be automatically trusted in Acrobat and Reader 9.0 and above, including most US Federal HSPD-12 / PIV cards.

So how do you take advantage of the AATL?  Well, if you’re using Acrobat or Reader 9, you don’t need to do anything!  This feature is turned on by default when you install these products, and the Trust List will automatically be updated every 90 days, though you must open a signed document (like the one here, for example) or open a signature-related menu item to trigger the timer and update.

If you want to verify the AATL is enabled, go to Edit (‘Acrobat’ on Mac)->Preferences->Trust Manager and be sure that the “Load trusted root certificates from an Adobe server…” check box is checked.  (See image below.)  You can then click the “Update Now” button in that same dialog box to download the latest version of the AATL from Adobe.  In any case, be sure to review the User FAQ if you’re having any problems or have any questions about how the AATL works.


The launch of the AATL complements our existing Certified Document Services (CDS) trust program, where new digital IDs that are chained to the Adobe Root certificate embedded in Adobe products are automatically trusted.  CDS is key to document certification efforts at the US Government Printing Office, Avow Systems, the Antwerp Port Authority, and many other customers who use high assurance signatures to protect the integrity and authorship of key electronic documents.  Anybody who opens a PDF document signed or certified by a CDS credential automatically gets a ‘blue ribbon’ experience with trust provided to the signature without any user interaction.  Five certificate authorities currently offer CDS certificates. 

While the high level benefits of the Adobe Approved Trust List program are similar, the AATL is only available in Acrobat and Reader 9 at this time.  It is not backwards compatible.  CDS credentials, on the other hand, are backwards compatible from the current generation of Acrobat and Reader all the way back to version 6. Also CDS Providers offer certificates that meet a similar high standard for assurance and feature additional capabilities including the automatic embedding of robust timestamping and real-time revocation to provide for easy, long term validation of digital signatures.  However, existing certificate communities, such as government national ID card programs, can join the AATL, as the chain to the Adobe Root certificate is not required.  Contact Adobe to get more information about which program is right for your organization / government.

If you’d like to test the AATL (and you’ve verified that it’s enabled and downloaded per the instructions above and in the FAQ), please browse our sample documents available here.

And the story doesn’t end there!  Several more government and commercial entities are lined up to join the program in the coming months…stay tuned.

Please visit the AATL webpage for more information.


Posts, The Archives

Posted on 07-17-2009