Decoding Digital Signatures

Jean Dennison
March 22, 2017
1259 Views

In the era when almost everything; from how we shop to how we communicate has been taken over by technology and its wonders, its imperative that authenticity and legitimacy of content exchanged is maintained.

Digital signatures are a great way of ensuring such safety measures. Also called electronic signatures, these are basically a mathematically designed patterns that are used to authenticate documents, certificates or messages that might be exchanged among two or more parties. A digital signature work on asymmetric cryptography and employs the use of an algorithm. These are becoming increasingly bonded with legal significance in major countries and are being taken up and implemented in Government offices and leading MNC’s.

How does asymmetric cryptography in digital signs work?

Digital signs are mathematically generated and use a public key algorithm. An example of such an algorithm is the RSA, or the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (named after people who first described it). The RSA then, basically generates two different set of keys. One of these keys is public and the other is private.

When the digital signature is being generated, it is the private key that comes to play. The private key then creates a hash, which is one-way. The hash is basically encrypted by the private key that rests securely with the user/signer at all times. It is the encrypted hash by the private key which is essentially the digital signature and is carried as the hashing algorithm.

The public key is used by the user/signer to sign the document which is to be viewed by the public.

It is here, that both the keys come to play. The hash sent by the signer in the public key and the hash in the system (the private key) HAVE to match. If they don’t, the digital signature has been tampered with or is not authentic.

The reason why this is a reputable and dependable method of developing digital signatures is that, even if a single character of the algorithm is deleted, omitted, added or changed. the whole algorithm stands nullified and the digital signature is invalid; which explains the security, efficiency and authenticity of the digital signs.

How to create Digital Signatures?

Digital signs can be created on a number of platforms that you might be using and are available to be used at plethora of instances. Some examples: –

  • Adobe

From the ‘tools’ option in Menu Bar, select sign & certify and then click on More Sign & Certify. From the drop box, go the Settings and select Digital IDs. Finally, choose add IDs.

  • MS Office operations

Click the MS Office button and click Prepare. Go to View Signatures and in the Signature window-pane, click Signature Details and View.

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