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Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)

Digital Signature  is an electronic form of a signature that can be used to authenticate the identity of the sender of a message or the signer of a document, and also ensure that the original content of the message or document that has been sent is unchanged. Digital signatures are easily transportable and cannot be imitated by someone else. The ability to ensure that the original signed message arrived means that the sender cannot easily disclaim it later.Digital Signatures make use of the public key encryptions to create the signatures.

Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) is the electronic format of physical or paper certificate like a driving License, passport etc. Certificates serve as proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a Passport identifies someone as a citizen of that country; who can legally travel to any country. Likewise, a Digital Signature Certificate can be presented electronically to prove your identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.It contains information about the user name, pin code, country, email address, date of issuance of certificate and name of the certifying authority. They are helpful in authenticating the personal information details of the individual holder when conducting business online. DSC holder does not have to be physically present to conduct or authorize a business.

There are three categories of Digital Signatures:
1. Class I: Class I DSC is used to protect e-mail communications.
2. Class II: Class II DSC is used for filings such as Income Tax return, Company Registration, DIN application, Trademark, etc.
3. Class III: Class III DSC is used for e-tendering and e-auctions.

Digital signatures are issued for 1 or 2 years. After their validity has expired, they need to be renewed. A person can have different DSCs – one for official purposes and the other DSC for personal purposes. As per provisions of the Information Technology Act, documents authenticated by the use of DSC are legally enforceable as proof/ evidence.

Documents required for DSC registration
1. Passport size photograph:
2. PAN Card
3. Voter I'd/ Aadhaar

Q 1. Where can I purchase a Digital Signature Certificate?
Ans: Legally valid Digital Signature Certificates are issued only through a Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), Govt. of India, licensed Certifying Authorities (CA), such as eMudhra.
eMudhra, a Certifying Authority (CA) licensed by CCA, offers secure digital signatures through various options tailored to suit individual as well as organizational needs.

Q 2. Where can I use Digital Signature Certificates?
Ans: You can use Digital Signature Certificates for the following:
1. For sending and receiving digitally signed and encrypted emails .
2. For carrying out secure web-based transactions, or to identify other participants of web-based transactions.
3. In eTendering, eProcurement, MCA [for Registrar of Companies efiling], Income Tax [for efiling income tax returns] Applications and also in many other applications.
4. For signing documents like MSWord, MSExcel and PDFs.
5. Plays a pivotal role in creating a paperless office.

Q 3. How does a Digital Signature Certificate work?
Ans: A Digital Signature Certificate explicitly associates the identity of an individual/device with a pair of electronic keys - public and private keys - and this association is endorsed by the CA. The certificate contains information about a user's identity (for example, their name, pincode, country, email address, the date the certificate was issued and the name of the Certifying Authority that issued it).
These keys complement each other in that one does not function in the absence of the other. They are used by browsers and servers to encrypt and decrypt information regarding the identity of the certificate user during information exchange processes. The private key is stored on the user's computer hard disk or on an external device such as a token. The user retains control of the private key; it can only be used with the issued password.
The public key is disseminated with the encrypted information. The authentication process fails if either one of these keys in not available or do not match. This means that the encrypted data cannot be decrypted and therefore, is inaccessible to unauthorized parties.

Q 4. What is the difference between a Digital Signature and a Digital Signature Certificate?
Ans: A digital signature is an electronic method of signing an electronic document whereas a Digital Signature Certificate is a computer based record that:
1. Identifies the Certifying Authority issuing it.
2. Has the name and other details that can identify the subscriber.
3. Contains the subscriber's public key.
4. Is digitally signed by the Certifying Authority issuing it.
5. Is valid for either one year or two years.

Q 5. Can I use digital signature certificate in e-tendering systems?
Ans: Yes, digital signature certificates can be employed in wireless networks.

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