A digital signature is a method used to confirm the authenticity and honesty of a message, software or digital document. Compared to a handwritten signature or stamped seal, a digital signature offers far more internal security, and it is designed to solve the problem of tampering and imitation in digital communications.
Digital signatures can provide the added assurances of evidence of origin, identity, and status of an electronic document, transaction or message and can acknowledge informed consent by the signer.
Digital Signature Certificates help authenticate the personal information details of the individual holder when conducting business online.
Reduced cost and time : Instead of signing the hard copy documents physically and scanning them to send them via e-mail, you can digitally sign the PDF files and send them much more quickly. The Digital Signature certificate holder does not have to be physically present to conduct or authorize a business
Data integrity : Documents that are signed digitally cannot be altered or edited after signing, which makes the data safe and secure. The government agencies often ask for these certificates to cross-check and verify the business transaction.
Authenticity of documents : Digitally signed documents give confidence to the receiver to be assured of the signer’s authenticity. They can take action based on such documents without getting worried about the documents being forged.
Individuals and entities who are required to get their accounts audited have to file their income tax return compulsorily using a digital signature. Furthermore, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has made it mandatory for companies to file all reports, applications, and forms using a digital signature only.
Under GST also, a company can get registered only by verifying the GST application through a digital signature. The use of a digital signature is necessary even for filing all applications, amendments and other related forms.
The Controller of Certifying Authority to issue digital signatures in India has authorized eMudhra as one of the certifying authority for issuance of Digital Signature Certificate.
Other certifying authorities may include (n) Code Solutions, National Informatics Centre, Safescrypt and Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology.
The type of applicant and the purpose for which the Digital Signature Certificate is obtained defines the kind of DSC one must apply for depending on the need. There are three types of Digital Signature certificates issued by the certifying authorities.
Class 1 Certificates : These are issued to individual/private subscribers and are used to confirm that the user’s name and email contact details from the clearly defined subject lie within the database of the certifying authority.
Class 2 Certificates : These are issued to the director/signatory authorities of the companies for e-filing with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). Class 2 certificate is mandatory for individuals who have to sign manual documents while filing returns with the ROC.
Class 3 Certificates : These certificates are used in online participation/bidding in e-auctions and online tenders anywhere in India. The vendors who wish to participate in the online tenders must have a Class 3 digital signature certificate.