What is a digital signature and how do I generate it?
A Digital Signature Certificate is like a hand written signature, which establishes the identity of an individual over an electronic medium. These certificates ensure that there has been no tampering with data at the point at which the document was digitally signed. The introduction of Digital Signature Certificates have simplified the verification process for many important documents and made it much faster and simpler. Just like a passport, a DSC provides information about the sender, is forgery resistant, and is a highly secured document.
In order to guarantee the authenticity of a DSC, it is digitally signed by a root certificate belonging to a trusted certificate authority. Different operating systems and browsers maintain a list of trusted CA root certificates so that they can easily verify the digital certificates. In fact, when a public key infrastructure (PKI) is deployed internally, digital certificates can be self-signed too.
A public key infrastructure (PKI) is a set of public encryption keys which enables users and computers to securely exchange data over the internet and verifies the identity of the other party. Any form of sensitive data exchanged over the internet is reliant on PKI for security.
There are three different types of Digital Signature Certificates.
Class 1 Certificate: These certificates are issued to individuals or private subscribers. These certificates confirm if the user’s name and e-mail address are genuine and approved by the certifying authorities’ database.
Class 2 Certificate: These certificates are issued to both business personnel and individuals. These certificates confirm that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict with the information in popular consumer databases.
Class 3 Certificate: This certificate is issued to individuals as well as organisations. These are high assurance certificates, primarily intended for e-commerce applications and are only issued when the individual physically appears before the certifying authorities.
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