Since time immemorial there have been reports of man signing documents as a sign of responsibility, so that any faults in his job can be traced back to him and there is 100% accountability. This goes back to the time of Julius Caesar, the great roman emperor who made his people sign documents to have accountability and order in the affairs. Even today we follow the same system of signing be it cheque leaves or application forms or posts, we sign to be accountable and a proof that we have done it so that it can be traced back to us if any discrepancy is found.
Based on this very human nature e – signatures and/or digital signatures evolved. In essence a digital signature is a signature of a person on a document albeit it is not a physical signature, but good enough nonetheless. It is nothing but a coded picture of your name or signature which makes the document to the third party inaccessible. An individual wishing to have a digital signature should first register himself/herself with the registering authorities regarding what kind of signature they want and of course on payment of a fee you will be allotted a signature which is unique and like fingerprints no two people are given the same signature as it would become counterproductive. Usually the period up to which you are the owner of the signature is pre determined, say 1 year, 2 year, etc, after which the authorities can assign that very signature to anybody if you do not renew it.
It ensures that the documents submitted electronically are authentic and secure. It is the only security as of date for e – forms. A valid digital signature tells the receiver that the document or information is sent by a friendly person and it is secure. Today the government has made it mandatory for all bank managers and slowly it is directing all the heads of the companies to have a digital signature of their own as all transactions and document submissions must happen online. Since every digital signature is unique a sender cannot deny sending the data or document if the digital signature attached to it is valid one.
As stated earlier governments insistence on having a digital signature is growing and not only that MNCs and foreign companies don’t even recognize your communication if it is not attested with a digital signature.
Uses of e – signatures:
- Security – the main reason an e – signature is attached to a document is because to ensure its security. Nobody other than one having the key can open the document, so there is no question of integrity of the document being compromised.
- Authentication – it usually works the same way as the ink and paper signature. Once the digital signature is attached, the sender by default authenticates the information.
- Non – repudiation – this is similar to authentication. This usually means that on attaching a digital signature the sender cannot deny sending the data or the documents.
Digital signatures today are gaining prominence as people are able to wrap their heads around it and understand it so that they can use it in an effective way which will help them in their endeavors. Even with all the hype around it digital signatures are still in their infancy. As people are beginning to understand the importance of it and the role it can play in helping them out is starting to appear. So now it is being viewed as a potential asset more than a mere formality, as it was viewed sometime back.
The coming say 3 – 5 years are going to decide in which way people are going in terms of embracing the digital signatures. With the governmental bodies pressure and peer pressure from the bigger companies, all local firms are beginning towards having a digital signature of their own.
With the technology evolving every day the threats are evolving too. To be on the safer side everybody are advised to have a digital signature handy so that tomorrow a time may come when the same digital signature may have avoided you a major hassle.