Digital signature and digital certificate are security measures when signing electronic documentation. They have slightly different meanings and uses, but the scope in which they can be useful remains the same.
What is a digital signature?
A digital signature is a technology that is used to verify the authenticity of a specific digital document, message, or transaction. It provides the recipient with a guarantee that the message was created by the sender and has not been modified by a third party.
When a person signs digital documentation, there is a problem of identification. Is the signatory who he is, and can he be responsible for the integrity and correctness of the information? The same questions are presented to the signature – is it not forged? A digital signature helps to solve these problems since a digital signature certificate confirms a person’s identity.
A digital signature is an electronic encrypted authentication stamp on digital data. It is proves that the information was received from the source and was not changed.
Digital signatures can provide proof of origin, identity, and status, as well as the consent of the signer with the contents of the document.
Digital Signature Benefits
The technology provides several opportunities for organizations and individuals who maintain documentation in electronic form. Among such advantages and opportunities:
- Authentication. Digital signatures can be used to verify the authenticity of the source of information, especially in the case of financial transactions.
- Integrity. If the message is digitally signed, any change in it after the signature invalidates it.
- Reliability Using this property, an object that has signed some information cannot subsequently deny that it has signed it. Similarly, access only to the public key does not allow fraudsters to forge a valid signature.
Digital signatures use a standard accepted format called PKI. In many countries, digital signatures have the same legal meaning as wet stamps. Digital signatures are widely used to prevent falsification of important documents.
What is a digital certificate?
Digital certificates work in the same way as ID cards, such as passports and driving licenses. Government issue digital certificates. When someone requests it, the authority checks the identity of the requesting person, certifies that it meets all the requirements for obtaining the certificate, and then issues it.
When a digital certificate is granted to others, they can verify the identity of the owner, as the certificate provides the following security benefits:
- Contains personal information to help identify and trace the owner;
- Contains the information necessary for identification and communication with the authority that issued the document;
- Designed resistant to cracking and counterfeiting;
- Issued by a body that can revoke an identification card at any time (for example, if the card is used for other purposes or lost);
- It is possible to check for authenticity by contacting the issuing authority.
A digital certificate may be an additional document proving identity.
The difference between a digital signature and a digital certificate is that the certificate binds the digital signature to the object, while the digital signature must ensure that the data or information remains secure from the moment it is sent. Digital certificates are used to validate the identity of the sender, and digital signatures are used to validate the sent data.