Getting Started with Digital Signature in Bulk Mail

Obtaining and using digital signature in Bulk Mail.

What is digital signature?
How do I obtain a digital certificate?
How to use digital signature?

**What is a digital signature?

A digital signature is an electronic message security feature used to authenticate and validate digital information - such as e-mail messages, documents, and macros, assuring that the signer is the originator and that this information has not been altered or tampered with; and this was not sent by an imposter. 

digital signature

How to recognize a digital signature

For more information about recognizing and verifying a digital signature in an email message or document that you've received, go to:
Microsoft's How to tell if a signature is trustworthy

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What is an S/MIME client certificate?

A digital certificate is comprised of a pair of mathematically linked but different numbers called keys, one private and one public used in conjunction with a method of encryption called asymmetric cryptography to exchange information securely and protect information integrity.

An S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) client certificate is the encryption mechanism used to create digital signatures for email messages (or also encrypting messages).  When the sender signs an email using a digital signature, it provides a mechanism for the recipient to be able verify who sent the message and that the email hasn't been altered in transit.

[Reference: Indiana University]

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How do I obtain a digital certificate ?

Step 1:  Open a Help Desk ticket in the OIT Identity & Access Management queue to request a digital certificate.

Provide the following information:
  1. Name of the customer
  2. Customer NetID
  3. Primary email address
  4. List of all email aliases


  1. Name: Sammy Willy Owl
  2. NetID:  swo1
  3. List hst the primary email addresses that will be used to send Bulk Mail:

Step 2:  The person requesting the cert should check their email for a message from the Certificate Authority (Certificate Services Manager <>) for an invitation with a link to create the certificate. [At this step, you may request assistance from your Division Representative].  The email should read as follows with the customers information.

Dear <Requestor Name>,

You now need to complete the following steps:

    * Click the following link to validate your email<requestor NetID%40rice%2eedu (if the link doesn't work please copy request code RUpXxp34pUTrYYSY8V5SeI3Tk and paste it into proper field in the validation form).
      Your request code: RUpXxp34pUTrYYSY8V5SeI3Tk
    * Type in a PIN to protect your email certificate
    * Click 'Download' to collect your certificate. You should save this file to a safe place on your hard drive.
    * Import your new certificate into your email client and/or internet browser. (Please contact your administrator for help with this/Please click the following link for instructions)

Step 3: The email will direct the user to click on a URL that will show a page similar to the one below

Certificate Magager Screen 1

Step 4:  The customer should create a strong password in a text file that can be copied and pasted into the PIN and re-type PIN fields.  Loss of this password will require you to start over from scratch as this certificate will be unusable.  The PIN is the password to access the file.  The Pass-Phrase is used only for renewing the certificate or revoking it.  Create Pass-Phrases and save them in the text file and copy them into the appropriate fields then click SUBMIT at the bottom of the page.

Step 5: The certificate will be made available for download.  Click DOWNLOAD, have the customer create a box share MOVE the .p12 file into it.  The file is encrypted using the PIN the customer chose during Step 3.

Certificate Manager 2nd web page

Download folder

Step 6:  Create a BOX folder and MOVE the file into this folder.  In Box, share the folder with  Copy the Box share URL.

Step 7:  Have the customer email with the URL from box for the location of the certificate.  In the email request the cert to be installed in Bulk Mail.

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How to use the certificate?

Review the steps below on using Bulk Mail. There have been some recent changes.  Step 7 provides more information on digital signature.

Login to Bulk Mail:

Enter: NetID and Password


Note:  From, Reply-to and Bounce To addresses need to be a valid email address.  If you want to use a personal name in it, then it should be formatted like this:  Office of Information Technology <>

If you are trying to use colored fonts, show tables, etc., you need to use the HTML formatting instead of plain text.

A completion message will appear when the message has been sent to all recipients in the specified list and a list of all of these addresses will appear on the summary page.


Additionally, the window includes a count of attempted and failed message deliveries.

email deliveries count

How do I send messages through Bulk Mail?

  1. Before you open the Bulk Mail tool, compose your message and email the draft message to yourself to re-check links and attachment size. This also allows you to spell check the content since the Bulk Mail tool does not include a spell checker.
  2. Login to the Bulk Mail application with your NetID and password, then complete the fields as as follows:
  3. From - type your Rice email address here. Examples: or
  4. Reply-to - leave blank, unless you want recipients to reply to another email address.
  5. Bounce to - leave blank, unless you want another email address to receive notices about messages that could not be delivered.
  6. Digitally sign this message? - This new feature is added to digitally sign the email also known as S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension). Your email will be signed with a digital signature.  Select "No", if your email address has not been set up to use the digital signature.

  7. digital signature

  8. Digital Certificate Password {PIN}: You will need to enter the digital signature certificate password if you select "Yes" to sign your email with a digital signature.  Make sure "From" email address matches with the email in your digital certificate to correctly sign your email. If your "Bounce To" address is different from your "From" address, make sure "Bounce To" address in included in the certificate subject alt name of your digital certificate to correctly sign your email.

  9. digital signature yes
  10. To - select the existing group of Rice community members to whom wish to distribute your message (all employees, all graduate students minus Jones School, etc.) or choose the "recipient list below" option.
  11. Recipient list- if you are using a customized list of addresses, attach it here. Skip this step if you chose one of the existing Rice community groups in the previous step.  

    TIP:  for uploading a CSV (comma separated values) list or text:  No semi-colons.  Why? Semi-colons indicate the end of the list, so the first one the application comes across will signal that there are no more addresses in the list.

  12. Email format - Both plain text and HTML message is the default.  You can choose HTML or Plain text message formats.
    a. The new bulk mail tool now supports HTML formatting.  So, if your message needs to be presented in a certain way, choose that format.
    b. If you set up your message in your regular email tool and format it with HTML code, then paste that HTML message into the bulk mail application; remember to select HTML or both for the Email format. If you select plain text and paste in HTML code, the HTML formatting will be stripped out and your message will be distributed in plain text.
    c. If you choose to add attachment, you will need to choose either “Both plain text and HTML” or “HTML” message option. Choosing “Plain Text Message” will not send the attachments.
  13. Subject - type in a brief, descriptive subject line
  14. Message - paste your draft message in this box.  If you choose to format the message font or include an image, select from the icons at the bottom of the box.
  15. Attachments - leave blank if you are not including an attachment.  Otherwise, browse to the file and select your attachment (remember the 20 MB maximum file size!)
  16. Send Test Message - Check this box to send yourself a test message before you distribute to the entire list. This is a good way to conduct a final review of your message.
  17. Confirm - click the button to send your message to the list. If you chose the test message option, additional options follow.
    a. Confirm and Send - if you elected to send yourself a test message, select this button to send your message as a test message to yourself.
      - Summary page - once you send the test message with "Confirm and Send" you will see a summary page that includes all the addresses to which the message was send and includes the number of attempted deliveries and the number of failed deliveries.
      - Go back and send another email - use to set up your real message. By selecting this link, you will be returned to your original message page. Uncheck the "send test mail" box and this time when you select "Confirm", the message will to out to your list.
    b. Go Back to Modify - if you elected to send yourself a test message and have discovered items you wish to revise, select this button to modify the message before sending yourself the test message.

Important noteCurrently, selecting the Confirm and Send button distributes the message and clears the fields in the application. If you selected the option to "send me a test message", you will have to complete all the application fields again when you are ready to send the message to the full distribution list.  You can "copy and paste" the title and content into the form to save time.  IT developers are currently researching ways to re-populate the content fields with the last text you entered.

See Also:

Keywords:Digital Certificate bulk mail S/MIME certificate PIN InCommon Manager   Doc ID:71954
Owner:Dora L.Group:Rice University
Created:2017-03-22 14:07 CSTUpdated:2018-07-18 16:35 CST
Sites:Rice University
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