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ELSTER Electronic Tax Declaration

In 1998, the German tax authorities in Bavaria commissioned secunet to design the security architecture in one of Germany’s largest e-government projects: the electronic tax declaration (ELSTER). Right from the outset of the project, secunet served as the consultant for the tax authorities for planning, designing, developing, integrating and implementing security functionalities. The project involved the following, among others: 

  • Creation of the security concept for the electronic transmission of income tax returns, including vulnerability assessments and risk analyses
  • Penetration tests and technical audits
  • Draft of a concept for secure partner authentication, encryption and electronic signature (ELSTER Phase 2)
  • Creation of test plans and development of security concepts for archiving and backing up signature data
  • Integration of the ELSTER application into an environment which complies with the German Signature Act (SigG) (manufacturer’s declaration), including a criteria catalogue for the analysis of SigG-specific requirements and user guidelines for setting up a secure application environment
  • Definition of a verification method for the use of signature cards and certification services corresponding to the German Tax Data Transmission Ordinance (StDÜV) within ELSTER and creation of a StDÜV checklist
  • Protection of the ELSTER software download and installation processes by means of server authentication, encryption and electronic signature
  • Evaluation of signature products from various manufacturers, recommendation of a manufacturer's product and support in integrating it into the ELSTER application
  • Design and implementation of the PKI-based authentication method currently in use for ELSTER with the use of web services/SOAP
  • Support in the launch and certification of an information security management system in compliance with ISO 27001
  • Design and implementation of an authorisation management system on the basis of OpenSource software
  • Design of the method for “electronic receipts”


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Security for the electronic tax declaration ELSTER