Digital Signature Certificates

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Digital Signature Certificates

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a secure digital key that certifies the identity of the holder, issued by a Certifying Authority (CA). It typically contains your identity (name, email, country, APNIC account name and your public key). Digital Certificates use Public Key Infrastructure meaning data that has been digitally signed or encrypted by a private key can only be decrypted by its corresponding public key. A digital certificate is an electronic “credit card” that establishes your credentials when doing business or other transactions on the Web.

Understanding Digital Signatures

Digital Signature Certificates

Digital signatures cryptographically bind an electronic identity to an electronic document and the digital signature cannot be copied to another document. Paper contracts sometimes have the ink signature block on the last page, and the previous pages may be replaced after a signature is applied. Digital signatures can be applied to an entire document, such that the digital signature on the last page will indicate tampering if any data on any of the pages have been altered, but this can also be achieved by signing with ink and numbering all pages of the contract.

A Digital Signature is the equivalent of a physical signature in electronic format, as it establishes the identity of the sender of an electronic document in the Internet. Digital Signatures are used in India for online transactions such as Income Tax E-Filing, Company or LLP Incorporation, Filing Annual Return, E-Tenders, etc., There are three types of Digital Signatures, Class I, Class II and Class III Digital Signature. Class I type of Digital Signatures are only used for securing email communication. Class II type of Digital Signatures are used for Company or LLP Incorporation, IT Return E-Filing, Obtaining DIN or DPIN, and filing other forms with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department. Class III type Digital Signatures are used mainly for E-Tendering and for participating in E-Auctions. Digital Signatures come in the form of a USB E-Token, wherein the Digital Signature Certificate is stored in a USB Drive and can be accessed through a computer to sign documents electronically.

An ink signature could be replicated from one document to another by copying the image manually or digitally, but to have credible signature copies that can resist some scrutiny is a significant manual or technical skill, and to produce ink signature copies that resist professional scrutiny is very difficult.

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It is an easy and simple process. Open the word document that requires a signature, or you can create a new document. At the top of the window, click on the ‘insert’ tab. At the corner of the toolbar, identify an icon that looks like a hand holding a pen, it is called the signature line; click on it. You will get two options, click on the Microsoft office signature line option. A signature setup box will appear requiring certain details. Fill the box accordingly. Click the ‘ok’ button. On the signature line, make a right click then select the sign option. You will see a box next to the letter X, type your name here. If there is an image file that contains your written signature, click the ‘select image’ icon then select the file that has it. When you have done it, click the ‘sign’ button.

Yes, most of the governments have a dedicated site to provide information on digital certificates. For example, In India, the ministry has a website dedicated to FAQs on DSC.

Digital signatures make sending electronic documents easy, fast, and smooth. You can do this from wherever you are and at any time.

No. What you will see is the name of the signer, their title, the name of the firm, the serial number of their DSC, and the name of the CA.

Typically, a digital signature has a private key that is unique to the signer and a public key that receivers use to identify the private key. The public key will read the signature that has been created by the private key, and it determines whether or not it is authentic.

There are three types of DSCs

  • Class I type is used only for securing email communication
  • Class II type is used for Company or LLP Incorporation, IT Return E-Filing, obtaining DIN or DPIN and filing other forms with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department
  • Class III type is used mainly for E-Tendering and for participating in E-Auctions

For most business compliance, Class II digital signature suffices.

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