Digital Signature

A digital signature is a mathematical technique used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a message, software or digital document. It’s the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature or stamped seal, but it offers far more inherent security. A digital signature is intended to solve the problem of tampering and impersonation in digital communications.

Digital signatures can provide evidence of origin, identity and status of electronic documents, transactions or digital messages. Signers can also use them to acknowledge informed consent.

In many countries, including the United States, digital signatures are considered legally binding in the same way as traditional handwritten document signatures.

Type of Digital Signature

In accordance with the guidelines of IT-Act and the X.509 Certificate Policy for India PKI published by Controller of Certifying Authorities, issues 3 classes of Certificates, namely: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Each class of digital signature certificates is associated with specific security features and corresponds to a specific level of trust.

Class 1 Certificate

Assurance Level: Class 1 certificates shall be issued for both business personnel and private individuals use. These certificates will confirm that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict with the information in well-recognized consumer databases.

Applicability: This provides a basic level of assurance relevant to environments where there are risks and consequences of data compromise, but they are not considered to be of major significance.


Class 2 Certificate

Assurance Level: These certificates will be issued for both business personnel and private individuals use. These certificates will confirm that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict with the information in well-recognized consumer databases.

Applicability: This level is relevant to environments where risks and consequences of data compromise are moderate. This may include transactions having substantial monetary value or risk of fraud, or involving access to private information where the likelihood of malicious access is substantial.

Class 3 Certificate

Assurance Level: This certificate will be issued to individuals as well as organizations. As these are high assurance certificates, primarily intended for e-commerce applications, they shall be issued to individuals only on their personal (physical) appearance before the Certifying Authorities.

Applicability: This level is relevant to environments where threats to data are high or the consequences of the failure of security services are high. This may include very high-value transactions or high levels of fraud risk.

How do digital signatures work?

Digital signatures are based on public-key cryptography, also known as asymmetric cryptography. Using a public key algorithm, such as RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), two keys are generated, creating a mathematically linked pair of keys, one private and one public.

Digital signatures work through public-key cryptography’s two mutually authenticating cryptographic keys. The individual who creates the digital signature uses a private key to encrypt signature-related data, while the only way to decrypt that data is with the signer’s public key.

DSC Document Requirement

The DSC has to be obtained from the government recognized certifying authorities (CA’s). The application of DSC requires submission of an application form by the applicant along with certain document attachments necessary for the application process. While applying for the Digital Signature Certificate, you are required to submit as proof, the following DSC document requirement along with your DSC application form.

Proof of Identification

  • Passport
  • PAN Card of the applicant
  • Driving License
  • Post Office ID card
  • Bank account passbook containing the photograph with the signature of the applicant and attested by the concerned bank official
  • Photo ID card issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of Centre/State Governments
  • Any Government-issued photo ID card bearing the signature of the applicant

Proof of Address

  • AADHAAR Card
  • Voter ID Card
  • Driving License (DL)/Registration Certificate (RC)
  • Water Bill (Not older than 3 Months).
  • Electricity Bill (Not older than 3 Months)
  • Latest Bank Statements signed by the bank (Not older than 3 Months)
  • Service Tax/VAT Tax/Sales Tax registration certificate
  • Property Tax/ Corporation/ Municipal Corporation Receipt

Attestation Officer Proof

A self-attested copy of the ID card/ address proof of the attesting officer must be provided.

Note: The above-mentioned documents must be enclosed with the DSC Application Form for submission while applying for a DSC

What are the benefits of digital signatures?

Security is the main benefit of digital signatures. Security capabilities embedded in digital signatures ensure a document is not altered and signatures are legitimate. Security features and methods used in digital signatures include the following:

  • Personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords and codes. Used to authenticate and verify a signer’s identity and approve their signature. Email, username and password are the most common methods used.
  • Asymmetric cryptography. Employs a public key algorithm that includes private and public key encryption and authentication.
  • Cyclic redundancy check (CRC). An error-detecting code and verification feature used in digital networks and storage devices to detect changes to raw data.
  • Certificate authority (CA) validation. CAs issue digital signatures and act as trusted third parties by accepting, authenticating, issuing and maintaining digital certificate. The use of CAs helps avoid the creation of fake digital certificates.
  • Trust service provider (TSP) validation. A TSP is a person or legal entity that performs validation of a digital signature on a company’s behalf and offers signature validation reports.
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