The remote electronic signature technology is very secure and sophisticated technology. It is a cryptographic mechanism that uses public key and private key. These keys are encrypted and decrypted which makes the digital signature a secure technology. Electronic signature technology is expanding its use because it is saving a lot of time, reducing the cost and speeding up the works in all industrial sectors. Hence, its awareness and adoption have become a vital necessity within the country people as well. Here, we’ll be discussing the preliminary developments made in digital signature technology along with its applications for the same cause.
What is Digital Signature?
A digital signature is a paperless mathematical technique that is used to validate the integrity and authenticity of any message. The message could be anything like a software or a digital document. It is the digital equivalent of a stamped seal or a handwritten signature. It is intended to offer more inherent security. It solves the issue of impersonation and tampering in digital communications.
Process of Electronic Signature
Any individual can sign any document or any such important thing using this technology. It can be one with an electronic signature in the same manner as he signs on a paper. During the process of electronic signature, two mutually authenticating cryptographic keys are generated which are public key and private key. Both of these keys remain with different entities. One key remains with the software used for the purpose, known as the public key. While the other key is the confidential one and that remains with the signatory only, known as the private key. This technology is known as a cryptographic system. Both the keys are necessarily involved in this signature.
Rise of Electronic Signature
A special element to the public key system is that both the public and private keys are correlated in such a way that only the public key can be used to encrypt messages and only corresponding private key can be used to decrypt those messages. Though, it is practically impossible to get to know the private key, if you perceive the public key. This digital technology was invented by Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie in 1976 and also known as asymmetric encryption because two keys are used in it instead of a single key.
How to create a Digital Signature?
The process of the digital signature is based on asymmetric cryptography. By using a public key algorithm like RSA, you can create two keys i.e. (i) private key and (ii) public key, that are linked to each other mathematically. For the electronic data to be signed, the signing software creates its one-way hash for creating the digital signature. Then to encrypt that message, a private key is used. Along with all the related information, such as the hashing algorithm, the encrypted hash is called as the electronic signature. Encrypting the hashes instead of the entire document or message saves time since hashing is much faster than signing. This is usually a more precise way since the hash function converts an arbitrary input into a fixed-length value, which is usually much shorter. This results in saving time.
The electronic signature can be used for all kinds of data - either it is encrypted or nor - just to be sure at the receiver’s end that the sender has an authenticated identity and the message isn’t tempered.
An electronic signature provides added assurances of identity, evidence of origin, and the status of an electronic message, document or transaction and can also acknowledge informed consent by the signer. The person who is creating the electronic signature uses its private key to encrypt the signature-related data. The only way to decrypt that information is just with that signer’s public key. That is how digital signatures are validated.
This technology of electronic signature demands all the entities to trust that the person creating the signature is capable to maintain their private key confidential. If anyone else gets access to the private key of the signer, that party could create false digital signatures in the name of the original private key holder.
In a lot of countries, the traditional document signatures are replaced with electronic signatures and are considered legal binding in the same way as the regular document signatures.
How digital signatures work
The value of a hash is always different for every hashed data. Even a small change of a single character in the data will result in a distinct value. This property enables others to verify the integrity of the message by just using the signer’s public key to decrypt that hash.
Only if that decrypted hash matches the other computed hash of the corresponding data, it verifies that the data hasn’t impersonated since it was signed. If both the hashes don’t match, then the data has either been tampered with or the signature was generated with any other private key that doesn’t correspond to the public key given by the signer.
Electronic signatures make it impossible for the signer to refuse having signed anything, as the electronic signature is unique to both the signer and the document. It binds both of them together. This property is termed as nonrepudiation.
Application of digital signatures
The applications of electronic signature are increasing rapidly. Its applications can be found everywhere in our daily routines. The banking sector is one of the most prominent entities that is using the digital signature or electronic signature application. Insurance companies, corporate sectors as well as all e-commerce fields are now considering the digital signature as a necessary industrial tool. A lot of industries use electronic signature technology to streamline their processes and develop document integrity. Industries that use electronic signatures include the following:
To improve the efficiency of treatment and administrative processes, electronic signatures are used in the healthcare industries. It strengthens data security, e-prescribing processes, and hospital admittances.
Electronic signatures are used by governments worldwide for several uses, including preparing tax returns, validating business-to-government transactions, endorsing laws and accomplishing contracts. Most governments must adhere to some solid laws, regulations, and standards while using digital signatures.
Manufacturing companies practice electronic signatures to speed up their processes. The processes may include product layout, quality assurance, manufacturing improvements, marketing, and sales. The adoption of digital signatures in manufacturing is supervised by the International Organization for Standardization.
The financial sectors of different countries use digital signatures for different purposes. They use it for paperless banking, and contracts mainly. The loan processing, mortgages, and insurance documentation are some more areas where the digital signatures are needed by the financial sectors. This massively regulated sector practices digital signatures with meticulous attention to the rules and regulations of the cryptographic systems.
With the speedy growth of network technology and software technology, the use of electronic signature technology has increased widespread. This article introduced some of the basic concepts of electronic signature, then made a broad description of its creation, working, and usage. Then, finally made a preliminary analysis of the application of electronic signatures.