written by | May 10, 2022

What is a Digital Signature Certificate? How to Get It Online?

In today's world, dealing with massive amounts of digital records is becoming the standard for all businesses. That might be a large number of photographs, word documents or anything else in digital format. A digital signature is a sure means of determining who owns this data. That's an online equivalent of a person's traditional signature, which is done with paper and ink. The rightful owner can use this digital signature to sign papers verifying the validity of the work generated.

Did you know?

In general, a person may possess two Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) and choose between using one for personal use and another for official use.

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What is a Digital Signature Certificate?

Although the terms 'Digital Signature' and 'Digital Signature Certificate' are often used interchangeably by the technical community, they are vastly different. A Digital Signature Certificate is similar to an identification card authorised by third parties, most of which are government agencies. A digital certificate, which is effectively a protected digital key, bears evidence of the identification of the certificate's bearer.

A DSC is issued electronically to access information or services on the internet or to sign a document electronically. These certificates utilise the extensively established Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) format to give high-level security to digital information. The most widespread use of digital signatures is in online data exchanges. The certificate validates an individual's authenticity while doing business online.

What Does the Digital Signature Certificate Contain?

The fundamental components of a digital signature are public and private keys and powerful software used to turn information into operational algorithms. A DSC can include the following elements: 

  • As part of the verification process, a public key is necessary.
  • For ease of identification, contact information such as a name and email address is necessary.
  • The DSC's expiry date is provided. It provides a shelf life, which allows the signature to be reset beyond the expiration date.
  • The firm identification is included, which aids in determining the authorising agency of the signature.
  • The serial number of the digital ID, which would be a unique identification number that is packed with the signature, is visible, which aids in tracking.

Benefits of Digital Signature

A DSC authenticates a person's personal information while doing commercial business over the internet. Nonetheless, it is not restricted to that and also provides a variety of additional benefits, which are stated below:

Cost and Time Effective

Keeping a DSC saves a lot of time that you would otherwise waste. Instead of manually signing the documents, the presenter can quickly sign them electronically and email them to the recipient. The DSC bearer does not need to be physically available to authorise or conduct business, and it allows the bearer to sign papers quickly from anywhere around the globe.

Data Integrity

This has been the most appreciated benefit of a DSC. Digitally signed papers cannot be amended or edited after they are signed, and it secures and safeguards the data. The use of online digital signatures decreases the possibility of document falsification, and it assures that the identity is genuine and authentic. A registered owner with a DSC is given passwords, pins and codes to validate their identity and authorise their signature.

Furthermore, the existence of a time-stamp with the DSC indicates the signature's date and time. This demonstrates that the document includes all the stated information when you signed it. As a result, meddling with such documentation becomes nearly impossible.

Regardless of the level of security provided by a DSC, government agencies require that these certifications be cross-checked and double-verified when conducting online transactions.

Seamless Workflow

Having a DSC guarantees that the job runs smoothly and without interruption. The digital signature, therefore, promotes a more efficient and effective operation. The task is efficiently handled, and the papers concerned can be easily traced. The digital signature provides many advantages to verify that the task is completed correctly. For example, a simple email message that appears might prompt somebody to sign the paper at the moment, which would otherwise be overlooked or ignored. Similarly, the status monitoring tool allows the individual working on a specific document to follow in on its progress from time to time.

Customer Experience

Before introducing digital signatures, people had to rush to their client's locations to get the paperwork signed. Furthermore, a large share of corporate transactions is rigorously time-bound, and this would have resulted in a massive waste of time and energy. The digital signature now saves a lot of time when completing transactions, and records can be monitored with less effort, allowing for more efficient operational planning. 

Businesses that deal with sales and marketing do not need to contact their consumers now and then to sign a few documents. This is appropriate, particularly in distant places and tiny towns that are difficult to reach. 

On the other extreme, consumers can be anywhere and be involved with the business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Legally Compliant

DSC is recognised as a statutory condition for a legitimate digital signature under the IT Act of 2000. DSCs can be granted, suspended or terminated by licenced certifying authorities (CAs) underneath the Ministry of Information Technology's Controller of Certificate Authority.

Environment Friendly

You may confirm the legitimacy of digital documents and eliminate the extra labour of printing hardcopies by employing digital signatures and a DSC. It's an environmentally beneficial action.

Classes of Digital Signature

The type of certificate should preferably be determined by the applicant and why the person desires to request a DSC. Applicants should submit applications for digital signatures based on user preferences. The authorities issue three types of digital signature certificates.

Class 1 Certificates

Professionals appointed signatories at their firms are awarded Class 1 Digital Signature Certificates. The certification verifies that their identification is legitimate and matches the information contained in the signature provider's directory.

Class 2 Certificates

Private people and corporate personnel are also eligible for class 2 certifications. The certifications attest that the data disclosed by the applicants in the request does not contradict records in recognised consumer databases. Furthermore, this certificate is required for people who must sign manual papers when submitting reports with the Registrar of companies. This type of certificate is used in operations when there is a high risk of fraud.

Class 3 Certificates

It is utilised for online participation or bidding in e-commerce auction events and online contract transactions anywhere throughout India. This is, certainly, a high-level insurance certificate designed particularly for e-commerce operations. This type of certificate provides the highest level of protection for the data being handled. Applicants will only be granted it if they physically present themselves before the certifying authority. Furthermore, suppliers who often engage in online bids must have a Class 3 DSC.

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Documents Needed for Digital Signature Certificate 

  • Uploading the Digital Signature Certificate registration form must be filled out completely by the petitioner. 
  • Proof of the applicant's residence address 
  • A copy of the individual's photo ID

Digital Signature Certificate Providers 

The operator of Certifying Authority does have the authority to appoint an official service provider to issue Digital Signature Certificates on behalf of the government of India. 

Digitally you can issue all three types of digital signatures. Some of the DSC providers are:

  1. Code Solutions Ltd. 
  2. e-Mudra 
  3. National Informatics Centre 
  4. Safe script 
  5. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

Validity of Digital Signature Certificate 

Authorities often grant digital certificates that are effective for one to two years, and it can, nonetheless, be revived, and the national government may impose costs for doing so. Furthermore, you should create the application for certificate renewal at least seven days before the expiration of the digital certificate's validity term.

The Digital Signature Certification is a highly secured key that confirms a bearer's identity and offers overall security to the organisation. As a result, by attaching the digital signature to an electronic document, any subscriber may ensure unchanged legitimacy and optimum efficiency. 

How to Get a Digital Signature Certificate? 

Certifying Authorities (CAs) can issue DSCs to end-entities thanks to the office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). You can find the list of approved CAs, the types of certifications they issue on the government web page for issuing authority and other criteria. 

You can select any of the authorised CAs based on the information. The cost of DSCs varies depending on the CA selected. You may apply for a Digital Signature Certificate both online and in person. Typically, authorisation takes two days. Once you've obtained a DSC, save it to your hard disk or download it on your laptop/PC.

Online method

Visit the DSC page of the accredited CA's website. Fill up the application form by selecting the type of DSC desired. You could save the application to your device and submit it to the Local Registering Authority headquarters with a demand draft or check payable to the LRA.

Offline method

Schedule a consultation with the CA. Bring papers such as a PAN card and an Aadhar card to the centre. Fill out the documents and pay the costs as directed by CA. 

Instead of verifying physical copies of accompanying papers, you can even use Aadhar e-KYC or bank e-KYC instead of verifying physical copies of accompanying papers. You must be an Aadhar card bearer, or your bank would have to have tie-ups with CAs for receiving e-KYC.

Conclusion

A Digital Signature Certificate is similar to an identification card authorised by third parties, most of which are government agencies. A digital certificate, which is effectively a protected digital key, bears evidence of the identification of the certificate's bearer. The fundamental components of a digital signature are public and private keys and powerful software used to turn information into operational algorithms. A DSC authenticates a person's personal information while doing commercial business over the internet.

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FAQs

Q: Who uses digital certificates?

Ans:

Cardholders and retailers both employ digital certificates. The use of digital certificates lets cardholders, retailers, and banks communicate securely and privately. The transactions that are created are safe and unchangeable, and they cannot be falsified.

Q: Why is a digital signature needed?

Ans:

Digital signatures are the safest and most dependable type of electronic signature, making them perfect for confidential legal documents and transactions. A digital signature's certification and validity information are extremely difficult to change or fabricate.

Q: What is a digital signature VS certificate?

Ans:

A digital signature differs from a digital certificate in that a certificate connects a digital signature to an entity, but a digital signature ensures that data/information remains safe from the time it was issued.

Q: What is a digital signature certificate?

Ans:

DSCs (Digital Signature Certificates) are the digital (electronic) equivalents of physical or paper certificates. Physical certificates include things like driver's licenses, passports, and membership cards.

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