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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions - About Digital Signature Certificates

What is a Digital Signature Certificate?

Digital Signature Certificates are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates. Examples of physical certificates are drivers' licenses, passports or membership cards. Certificates serve as proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a driver's license identifies someone who can legally drive in a particular country. Likewise, a digital certificate can be presented electronically to prove your identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.

What are the benefits of using Digital Signatures to sign the electronic documents?

The Digital Signatures have various advantages over the handwritten signatures. The digital signatures allow conversion of processes and transactions to electronic mode thereby reducing time, costs and efforts required for creating and maintaining physical records. More importantly the Digital Signatures are used for maintaining data integrity, as the messages or documents cannot be changed after signing. They also provide authentication, i.e. the receiver of a document or communication is assured of the signer authenticity.

Why is Digital Signature Certificate required?

Like physical documents are signed manually, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.

Who issues the Digital Signature Certificate?

A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) issues the digital signature. Certifying Authority (CA) means a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000.

What is the validity period of a Digital Signature Certificate?

The Certifying Authorities are authorized to issue a Digital Signature Certificate with a validity of one or two years.

What is the legal status of a Digital Signature?

Digital Signatures are legally admissible in a Court of Law, as provided under the provisions of IT

What is the difference between Electronic Signature and Digital Signature?

Digital Signature is the subset of the Electronic Signatures. Digital Signatures and Electronic Signatures have extremely different security properties. An Electronic Signature refers to a signature on an electronic document. It is equivalent to handwritten signature on paper. As per the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) an electronic signature is "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record". Digital Signatures leverage the underlying PKI infrastructure to provide signing and encryption for documents. While the PKI deals with creation of key pairs and issue / management of digital certificates, digital signature technology deals with use of these keys for various security functions from within the applications.