Log in ....Tribune

Monday, December 1, 2003

Sign in digitally
Jaspreet Bedi

Authentication has a prominent place to resolve the disputes since times immemorial. For a common man, authentication of document means signatures and attestation. During current times, when the e-fever is on and the use of e-laws, e-mails, e-governance , e-business , e-learning is at its peak, electronic documents in the form of letters, forms, cards, messages, appointments and promises are popular. Electronic signatures are used at the end of e-mail and are very popular. On the contrary, digital signatures are done electronically by using the technique of asymmetric cryptography, that is through a combination of private and public key.

Execution: The private key is with the subscriber who has to create signatures digitally, while public key is with the receiver who has to verify the digital signatures. In order to execute digital signatures, digital signature software is used. For this, a hash function is used by the signer and a hash result, also called message digest, is created. Then the signer uses the private key. (It is called encryption). Now this is ready to be sent. The receiver on the other end uses the same hash function and the public key to get back the original message. (The process is called decryption).


1. Digital signatures provide confidentiality of the information.

2. Digital signatures can be effectively used in the field of e-commerce.

3. Forgery is impossible until the signer has no control over his private key.

4. Digital signatures can be used for various legal purposes.

Exceptions: Although digital signatures are approved by the IT Act 2000 and applies to all electronic documents yet, negotiable documents, power of attorney, wills & some documents for the sale of immovable property etc. are exempted.

Certification: Digital signature certificate is issued by the certifying authority appointed under the IT Act. A certain amount of fee needs to be submitted. The certifying authority is authorised to suspend or revoke a digital signature certificate after publishing notice of the same.