[Answered]What is digital signature? What are various types of digital signature? Discuss its working mechanism and various benefits.

Demand of the question

Introduction. What is digital signature?

Body. Discuss various types of digital signature. Mention how digital signature works and it’s benefit.

Conclusion. Way forward.

A digital signature is a type of electronic signature which ensures that an electronic document is authentic. It gives the information about the creator of the document and ensures that the document has not been altered or tampered after its creation by that person. Digital signatures are used for validating the integrity and authenticity of any digital document, message or software etc.

Types of Digital Signatures: There are three types of digital signatures Class-1, Class-2 and Class-3, each of them have different security levels:

  1. Class-1 certificate: These are issued for both business personnel and private use. The class-1 certificate confirms that the information provided is authentic and it is not in conflict with the information of recognised consumer databases. These are used in places were the risks and consequences of data compromise are not of major significance
  2. Class-2 certificate: These are issued to both business personnel and for private use. The certificate confirms that the information provided is authentic and it is not in conflict with recognised pre-verified databases. These are used in environments where the risk of data compromise are moderate. It can include transactions having substantial monetary value, or access to important private information etc.
  3. Class-3 certificate: These are issued to individuals and organisations primarily intended for e-commerce applications, and for other important purposes. It provides the highest level of security where the person needs to be present himself/herself in front of the registration authority for proving his or her identity.

How it works?

  1. Creation: Digital signatures rely on a secret, either a secret passphrase, or, more commonly, a secret file. Digital signatures, like handwritten signatures, are unique to each signer.
  2. Encryption: When a signer electronically signs a document, the signature is created using the signer’s private key, which is always securely kept by the signer. The mathematical algorithm encrypt that data. The resulting encrypted data is the digital signature.
  3. Time stamp: The signature is also marked with the time that the document was signed. If the document changes after signing, the digital signature is invalidated.
  4. Keys generation: To protect the integrity of the signature, the keys are created, conducted, and saved in a secure manner, and often requires the services of a reliable Certificate Authority (CA).

Advantages of digital signatures:

  1. Saves Time: Digital signatures ensure that businesses save on cost and time with documents and contracts signed off with a click of a button. There are huge savings in cost and time, especially when the person required to sign is in a geographically different area.
  2. Cost Savings: Many companies also see significant cost savings, with little or no expense in ink, paper, printing, scanning , shipping/delivery or travel expenses. There are also savings in other indirect costs such as filing, rekeying data, archiving, or tracking.
  3. Workflow Efficiency: With lesser delays, digital signatures ensure better efficiency in workflow. Managing and tracking documents is made easier, with lesser effort and time involved. Many features of the digital signatures help speed up the work process. For instance, email notifications help remind the person to sign, while status tracking, help to know at which stage the document is at.
  4. Better Customer Experience: Digital signatures provide the convenience of signing important documents wherever a customer or the person to sign is located. Salesperson do not have to wait for the customer to come to the bank or office. Documents can be signed off at the doorstep. This is ideal, especially in remote areas and smaller townships providing improved and personalised services.
  5. Security: When it comes to signatures, authenticity and security is a priority. Digital signatures reduce the risk of duplication or alteration of the document itself. Digital signatures ensure that signatures are verified, authentic and legitimate. Signers are provided with PINs, passwords and codes that can authenticate and verify their identity and approve their signatures.
  6. Legal Validity: Digital signatures provides authenticity and ensures that the signature is verified. This can stand in any court of law like any other signed paper document. Time stamping and ability to track and easily archive documents improve and simplify audit and compliance.
  7. Environmental Benefits: As corporates and business become more conscious of their role in sustainability, digital signature is a step ahead in their efforts in reducing waste and being environmentally friendly.
  8. Governance: Digital signature has significant application in governance due to its security and authenticity features:
  • Income tax: filings, Notices and certificates.
  • Municipalities: Birth and Death certificate.
  • Public sector companies: Shares, bonds, debentures, appointment orders.
  • Procurement: Auctions, tendering etc.

Digital Certificate has immensely helped government servants to focus on their core functions by freeing them up in routine operations like revenue collection, issuing of certificate etc. which therefore helps in enhancing overall productivity of administrative machinery.

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