What Is a Digital Signature Certificate And How To Get It?

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a means of signing documents through an electronic medium. Throughout the years, this method has gained worldwide and legal recognition. A digital signature can be defined as a kind of asymmetric cryptography. Such a signature usually simulates the security properties that are ideally present in a handwritten signature done on paper.

A digital signature works with two kinds of algorithms. The first one is used for the purpose of signing. This algorithm deals with the user’s private key. The second algorithm is used to verify signatures that involve the user’s public key. Upon the completion of these two processes, the result is known as the “digital signature.”

What are Digital Signatures Used For?

A digital signature certificate has proven helpful to various programs on the internet, multiple websites, and local machines. They use these digital signatures to process the identity confirmation of third parties. Digital signatures are now known to be accepted as widely as handwritten signatures around the world.

How to Get Your Digital Signature Certificate?

The list of licensed CAs (Certifying Authorities) under the MCA portal can Multiple online platforms offer digital signature certificates, and one can approach them to get an authentic DSC. It must be noted that only the Office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) is the official body that issues these certificates to certifying authorities (CAs).

Requirements for a DSC

In order to get your own digital signature certificate, you will have to approach certifying authorities (CAs) and would need to do the following:

  • Fill out an online application form that verifies your personal details as directed by the certifying authority.
  • Provide a photo identification proof.
  • Please provide proof of address.

How to Apply for a Digital Signature Certificate?

Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) applicants can directly approach certifying authorities (CAs) with original supporting documents. Here are the steps to apply for a digital signature certificate.

  • Step 1. Log into a certifying authority website that is licensed to issue digital certificates in India.
  • Step 2. Next, download the form and fill out the necessary details, like the class, validity, or type of DSC you want.
  • Step 3. The document proof that is provided by you has to be attested by an attesting officer.
  • Step 4: Pay the online price for the digital signature. You can make payment for the DSC in the form of a demand draft or check, and it is to be made to the local registration authorities where the DSC is to be obtained.
  • Step 5. The required documents are then to be mailed to the local registration authorities.

DSC issuance usually takes about five business days from the date of application.

What Is the Difference Between a Digital Signature and a Handwritten Signature?

Knowing the difference between a scanned copy of a handmade signature written physically and a digital signature is essential. A scanned copy of a digital signature lacks any legal support when used to authenticate e-documents. A digital signature online comes at different prices, and the process of obtaining one can also be complicated.

Various Classes of Digital Signature Certificates

The various types of digital signature certificates are:

Class 1 Certificate

This is issued to individuals or private subscribers. These certificates bear the user’s name and mail address, obtained from the Certifying Authorities database.

Class 2 Certificate

This will be issued for business personnel’s or private individuals’ use. These certificates confirm that the information provided by the applicant in the application in no way conflicts with the information provided by well-recognized consumer databases.

Class 3 Certificate

The class 3 certificate is usually issued to individuals and corporate businesses and is treated as a high-assurance certificate. These are primarily intended for e-commerce applications; they are to be given only when the individual is personally (physically) present before the certifying authorities.

In addition to the three classes, the certifying authority can issue more public key certificates. However, the administration must make it clear as to what purpose these certificates serve. The verification methods that underlie the issuance of the digital signature certificate must also be stated very clearly.

What Are the Advantages of a Digital Signature Certificate?

Here are some of the most significant advantages of a digital signature certificate:

Authentication

A digital signature certificate helps authenticate all the personal details provided by the individual holder for business being conducted online.

Reduction of Cost and Time

Signing multiple hard copies of documents can be a painstaking task, especially when done physically. In addition, such hardcopies have to go through the scanning process to be sent through email. Instead, one can digitally sign the PDFs and other documents and send them quicker and easier. The Digital Signature Certificate owner can choose not to be physically present to conduct business.

Data Integrity

This is the safest aspect of data that is signed digitally. They are altered and edited safely after signing them digitally. This ensures that the data remains safe and secure. Government agencies also tend to cross-check and verify business transactions entered into by means of these certificates.

Authenticity

Ideally, a document should be authentic enough to give its receiver confidence that it is accurate. When made digitally, the signature provides the receiver with an assurance of its authenticity and use for official purposes. A digital signature is a perfect way to ensure they can take action based on such documents. There is no chance of being worried if the documents are forged.

FAQs on Digital Signature Certificate

The frequently asked questions on Digital Signature Certificates are given below:

Q1. Who is authorized to issue digital signature certificates?
Ans. The Office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) is the official body that issues these certificates to certifying authorities (CAs). For a genuine DSC certificate download, all you need to do is follow the steps given in the portal to get your own DSC.

Q2. What are the different classes of DSCs?
Ans. The various classes of digital signature certificates are Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, each obtained with a purpose of its own.

Q3. How much time does it take to receive the digital signature certificate in India?
Ans. It ideally takes five working days to get a DSC in India. Once you have taken all the necessary steps, you should receive your DSC within a week.

Q4. What is the validity of the digital signature certificate?
Ans. The validity of a DSC lasts for about 1 or 2 years, depending on the class of the DSC. It is usually advised that the holder be aware of the certificate’s validity period.

Q5. Can I have multiple DSCs?
Ans. You can hold multiple digital signature certificates for various purposes. Class 3 signatures are the most secure.

Conclusion

Digital signature certificates might seem like a daunting affair to many. The switch from hardcopies to e-based business comes with a certain challenge for people who are not tech-savvy. However, they do provide an easy fix to the authentication of documents with much less hassle.

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