A digital signature is data in a scheme backed by algorithms that verify the authenticity of the data it holds. In simpler words, it is just an electronic form of a handwritten signature. Particularly used in electronic documents, it is also referred to as "Digital Signature Certificate" or a "DSC" or an "Electronic Signature."
How does it work?
A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) can be used as a proof of identity to access services over the internet or digitally sign a document. This DSC is secure, ensuring the privacy of any information that you exchange using it. It might be similar to a handwritten signature, but in comparison, it is much more difficult to forge. If well implemented, they provide a layer of validation that helps the receiver to rectify the authenticity of the signature. A signature verifying algorithm is produced that has three levels of algorithm to accept or reject the authenticity. The levels could be labeled as authentication, non-repudiation, and integrity.
Authentication - Whether the signature was created by a known sender.
Non-repudiation - To be sure that the sender cannot deny having sent the message.
Integrity - To be asured the message was not altered in transit.
Who accepts a DSC in India?
In India it can be used for Income Tax filing (e-filing of returns), Provident Fund, E-tendering, E-Procurement, Trademark/Patent Filing, etc. as it accepted by Income Tax Department, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Registrar of Companies (RoC) and also DGFT.
The DSC contains information about the user's name, pin code, country, email address, date of issue of certificate and name of the certifying authority.
How to get a DSC in India?
The Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) issues licenses to Certifying Authorities (CAs) under Section 24 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 to provide DSCs. To obtain a DSC, one can approach any of the licensed Certifying Authorities (CAs).
The list of licensed CAs with address and contact numbers are available here.
What are the classes of DSC in India?
There are three classes of certificates:
Class 1: It verifies the name and e-mail address of the user. It can be used by employers while communicating with employees via e-mail.
Class 2: The identity of the person is verified against a trusted, pre-verified database. These can be used for filing tax returns.
Class 3: It is issued directly by the CA and is an indication of a higher level of authenticity as the person has to physically present himself/herself in front of the authority to prove his/her identity. These can be used to participate in e-tendering or e-auctions organized by the government and public sector undertakings.
Requirements for various classes of DSC:
|Class 1||Class 2||Class 3|
|Verification Requirements||Aadhaar eKYC Biometric||Aadhaar eKYC Biometric||Aadhaar eKYC Biometric|
|paper based application form and supporting documents||paper based application form and supporting documents||paper based application form and supporting documents and physical personal appearance before CA or Video verification|
|Aadhaar eKYC OTP + Video Verification||Aadhaar eKYC OTP + Video Verification||Aadhaar eKYC OTP + Video Verification|
|Private Key Generation and Storage||Software||Hard ware cryptographic device validated to FIPS 140-2 level 2||Hard ware cryptographic device validated to FIPS 140-2 level 2|
The Hardware (DSC USB Crypto Token) should be compliant with the FIPS standards mandated by the Government of India.
Some of the names and contact numbers of Class 2 and 3 CAs are:
1. Safescrypt CA
2. (n)Code Solutions CA (A division of GNFC Ltd.)
Telephone: 9810135371, 011- 26452279/26452280
3. e Mudhra CA
Telephone: +9180 43360000, 080-42275412
4. Capricorn CA
Telephone: 9599718996, +91 11 4244 8288