You can digitally sign a document for many of the same reasons why you might place a handwritten signature on a paper document. A digital signature is used to help authenticate the identity of the creator of digital information — such as documents, e-mail messages, and macros — by using cryptographic algorithms. Digital signatures are based on digital certificates. Digital certificates are verifiers of identity issued by a trusted third party, which is known as a certification authority (CA). This works similarly to the use of standard identity documents in a non-electronic environment. For example, a trusted third party such as a government entity or employer issues identity documents — such as driver’s licenses, passports and employee ID cards — on which others rely to verify that a person is whom he or she claims to be. Digital certificates can be issued by CAs within an organization, such as a Windows Server 2003 server that is running Windows Certificate Services, or a public CA, such as VeriSign or Thawte. A Digital Signature Certificate helps make light work of various transactions related to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, or Registrar of Companies. In addition to saving time, a Digital Signature Certificate also helps secure data.
Under provisions of the Information Technology Act, Usage of Digital Signatures on documents submitted in electronic form ensures security and authenticity. Furthermore, companies that file under e-Governance program have to use a Digital Signature that identifies the authorized signatory of the company.
A Digital Signature Certificate authenticates your identity electronically. It also provides you with a high level of security for your online transactions by ensuring absolute privacy of the information exchanged using a digital certificate. You can use certificates to encrypt information such that only the intended recipient can read it. You can digitally sign information to assure the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and also verify your identity as the sender of the message.
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