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 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.
Like physical documents are signed manually, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.
A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) issues the digital signature. Certifying Authority (CA) means a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000.
The different types of Digital Signature Certificates are:
Class 1 Certificate: Class 1 certificates are issued to individuals/private subscribers. These certificates will confirm that user’s name (or alias) and E-mail address form an unambiguous subject within the Certifying Authorities database.
Class 2 Certificate: These certificates are issued for both business personnel and private individuals use. These certificates will confirm that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict with the information in well-recognized consumer databases.
Class 3 Certificate: This certificate are issued to individuals as well as organizations. As these are high assurance certificates, primarily intended for e-commerce applications, they are issued to individuals only on their personal (physical) appearance before the Certifying Authorities.
The cost of obtaining a digital signature certificate may vary as there are many entities issuing DSCs and their charges may differ.
The time taken by CAs to issue a DSC may vary from three to seven days.
The Certifying Authorities are authorized to issue a Digital Signature Certificate with a validity of one or two years.
Digital Signatures are legally admissible in a Court of Law, as provided under the provision