What is a Digital Signature Certificate?
Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates. Examples of physical certificates are drivers’ licenses, passports or membership cards. Certificates serve as a proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a driver’s license identifies someone who can legally drive in a particular country. Likewise, a digital certificate can be presented electronically to prove your identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.
Why is Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) required?
Like physical documents are signed manually, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate. Transactions that are done using Internet if signed using a Digital Signature certicate becomes legally valid.
What are the types of Digital Signature Certificates provided by eMudhra?
- Class 2
- Class 3
Components of a Digital Signature Certificate
- Your public key: any one can get a copy of this and is part of the verification system.
- Your name and e-mail address: This is necessary for contact information purposes and to enable the viewer to identify the details.
- Expiration date of the public key: This part of the signature is used to set a shelf life and to ensure that in the event of prolonged abuse of a signature eventually the signature is reset.
- Name of the company: This section identifies the company that the signature belongs too.
- Serial number of the Digital ID: This part is a unique number that is bundled to the signature for tracking ad extra identification reasons.
- Digital signature of the CA (Certification Authority): This is a signature that is issued by the authority that issues the certificates.
Use of Digital Signature Certificate
Digital Signature Certificate can be used to access secured zones of web sites where member login is required, surpassing the requirement of entering the user name and password. It insures by means of verification and validation that the user is whom he/she claims to be. This is done by combining the users credential to the digital certificate and in turn this method uses one point of authentication. Digital certificates ensure confidentiality and ensure that messages can only be read by authorized intended recipients. Digital certificates also verify date and time so that senders or recipients can not dispute if the message was actually sent or received.
Sending Digitally Signed Mail
You can also use your Digital Signature Certificate to digitally sign your emails sent through Outlook Express / MS-Outlook etc. Digitally signing the mail authenticates your identity and enables the receiver to ensure that the mail has come from you only. It also ensures that the content of the mail is not tampered in the transit and the mail received by the receiver is the same what you have sent.
Professionals who require Digital Signature Certificate
Under MCA21 all the authorized signatories of company and professionals who sign the manual documents and returns filed with ROC is required to obtain a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). Therefore following personnel have to procure Digital Signature Certificate:
- Company Secretary – Whether in practice or in job.
- Bank Officials – for Registration and Satisfaction of Charges
- Other Authorized Signatories. Credentials required with Application Form
Reasons to Obtain Digital Signature
Class II Digital Signature
Class II Digital Signatures are used for Income Tax E-Filing, Company or LLP Incorporation, Annual Return Filing, etc., Class II Digital Signatures are required to file documents electronically with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department.
Class III Digital Signature
Class III Digital Signatures provide the highest level of assurance and are used for E-Auctions and E-Tendering. Government entities like the Indian Railways, Banks, etc., require Class III Digital Signatures to participate in their E-Tenders.
Digital Signature Certificate are stored on a secure USB flash drive called a E-Token. The Digital Signature Certificate stored in the USB flash drive must be connected to a computer to electronically sign a document.
Digital Signatures usually come with a validity of one or two years. The validity of the Digital Signature can be renewed once the term of the previous Digital Signature expires.