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What is Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a digital key used for authenticating the identity of the individual possessing it. The Controller of Certifying Authority (CCA) has authorised specified agencies to provide this certificate to the applicants. Holding a DSC and signing documents digitally ensures a high level of data integrity and is often preferred by most businesses in recent times.

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In the present-day scenario, it has become the norm of every business to deal with voluminous digital data. That could be a whole lot of images, word files, or anything under the sun but in digital format. A digital signature is a foolproof method to identify the authentic owner of these files. It is an online version of an individual’s usual signature that is done using paper and pen. Using this digital signature, the original owner can sign the documents proving the authenticity of the work created.

Digital Signature Certificate (DSC):

Although the words ‘Digital Signature’ and ‘Digital Signature Certificate’ are used alternatively by the technical populace they have a world of difference between them. A digital signature certificate is like an identity card and it is licensed by third parties, most often them being government bodies. A digital certificate, which is a secured digital key, essentially bears witness to the identity of the owner possessing the certificate.

A DSC is presented electronically to access information or service on the internet or to sign documents digitally.   These certificates use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) which is the widely accepted format to provide high-level security to digital data. The widest application of digital signatures is in the field of data transactions online.  The certificate authenticates an individual’s credentials while conducting the business online.

Benefits of Digital Signature:

A DSC plainly authenticates the personal details of an individual while conducting business transactions over the internet. However, it is not limited to that and offers a number of other privileges as well, as enlisted below:

1. Cost and Time Effective:

Holding a DSC saves unnecessary loss of time. Instead of signing the documents physically, the sender can sign them digitally in a jiffy and send them across within minutes to the receiver. The DSC holder does not have to be present physically to authorise or conduct business. It gives the holder the leniency to sign the documents instantly, from anywhere in the world.

2. Data Integrity

This is the most applauded advantage of a DSC. The documents that are signed digitally cannot be edited or altered once it is signed. It makes the data secure and safe. Online digital signature reduces the risk of duplication of the documents. It ensures that the signature is verified and legitimate. A signer, possessing a DSC, is provided with passwords, pins, and codes that can verify the identity and approve the signature. Further, the presence of the time-stamp with the DSC provides the date and time of the signature. This proves that the document had all the specified content it had, at the said time and also that it was signed at a particular time. Therefore, tampering with such a document becomes close to impossible. Despite the extent of security of a DSC, government agencies demand that these certificates be cross-checked and double verified while carrying out online transactions.

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3. Seamless Workflow

Owning a DSC ensures that the work goes smooth and unperturbed. The digital signature also ensures a better and an efficient workflow. The work can be managed well and the documents involved can be traced effortlessly. The digital signature offers a surplus of benefits to ensure that the work is carried out proficiently. For instance, a simple email notification that pops up could remind someone to sign the document on the spot which could have otherwise been missed out or forgotten.  Likewise, the feature of status tracking enables the person working on a particular document to have a check on its position from time to time.

4. Customer Experience

Before the inception of digital signature, people would have to run to their client’s place to get the documents signed. Moreover, a major portion of the business deals is strictly time-bound. This would have created an enormous wastage of time and energy. The digital signature, now, saves time in carrying out the transactions. The documents can be tracked with less effort and hence the work can be planned more effectively.

Businesses that involve sales and marketing don’t have the need to visit their customers every now and then just to get a few papers signed. This is suitable, especially in remote areas and small towns that are quite challenging to be reached out to. The customers, on the other hand, have the freedom to be anywhere and be engaged with the business round the clock, while availing themselves of swift and user-friendly services.

Reach the following link to know about Class 3 Digital Signature

DSC Application

The following are the requirements for making a DSC application:

  • The applicants can approach the certifying authorities with original supporting documents and self-attested copies
  • DSCs can also be obtained by producing proper identity and address proofs, like that of the Aadhar card of the applicant
  • A valid certificate issued by a bank that contains the applicant’s personal information is retained in the bank database. The certificate is issued by the manager of the bank.

It is pertinent to note that the applicants can also apply for a digital signature online.

Classes of Digital Signature

The type of certificate is ideally dependent on the applicant and the purpose the applicant intends to apply for a DSC. Applicants should apply for digital signatures based on their respective preferences. The authorities designated to grant the DSC issue two different classes of digital signature certificates.

Class 2

The class 2 certificates are issued for both private individuals and business personnel. The certificates confirm that the information provided by the applicant in the application does not conflict with the information in recognised consumer databases. Moreover, this certificate is mandatory for individuals who have to sign manual documents while filing returns with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).  This class of certificates is issued in transactions that have a considerable threat of fraud.

Class 3

It is used in online participation or bidding e-commerce auctions and for online tender transactions anywhere within India. Indeed, this is a high insurance certificate, primarily intended for e-commerce applications. This class of certificates renders top-notch security for the data dealt with. It will be issued to the individuals only on presenting themselves physically before the certifying authorities. Additionally, the vendors who often collaborate in online tenders are expected to hold a Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate.

Components of Digital Signature Certificate:

A digital signature’s key components are public and private keys and robust software that is employed to convert data into executable algorithms. A DSC can be said to comprise of the following:

  • A public key is required as a part of the verification system
  • Contact details like that of the Name and email address are required for ease of identification
  • The expiration date of the DSC is issued. It is used to set the shelf life which enables the signature to reset after the date of expiry
  • The name of the company is present which helps to identify issuing authority of the signature
  • The serial number of the digital ID, which is a unique number that is bundled along with the signature, is present which helps in tracking.

Requisites to Get a Digital Signature:

Any person who is seeking to obtain a digital signature certificate can apply to the certifying authority for the issuance of the certificate. The DSC application requires minimal documents. The certification authorities are appointed by the Office of the Controller of Certification Agencies (CCA). The CCA has given authority to various certification agencies to issue a digital signature certificate to the individuals seeking the same.

Validity of Digital Signature Certificate:

The digital certificates issued by the authorities are usually valid for one to two years. However, it can be renewed, and the central government may prescribe a certain amount of fees for it. Moreover, the request for the renewal of the certificate should be made at least 7 days before the expiry of the validity period for the digital certificate.

The digital signature certificate is a secure digital key that not only certifies the identity of a holder but also provides security to the business on the whole. Therefore, any subscriber can authenticate an electronic document by affixing the digital signature thus ensuring unaltered credibility and maximum efficiency.

The Digital Signature Certificate is a technical document and it is obtained from the stipulated authorities by making the application and submitting the required documents. We, here at Vakil Search are authorised providers of Digital Signature Certificates and have joined hands with some of the most prominent Certifying Authorities in India. That being said, there are also other reasons to choose Vakil Search for obtaining a DSC, as we:

  • are quick in getting the process done
  • deliver the Digital Signature with USB tokens that are compliant with FIPS security standards
  • provide all three classes of DSC
  • provide Digital signature with advanced SHA-256 algorithm as mandated by the Government of India
  • maintain data confidentiality
  • offer guidance on accessing and using USB tokens for e-filings.
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