Nearly every ounce of life has been digitised. There’s no fleeing it. In its digital tentacles, the Internet has engulfed our lives. And, life has also been made simpler. We have less records lying around our desks. But, a lot of security concerns often come with that ease. It is possible to easily fake your online identity. It is possible to quickly replicate your website. Or it can easily alter the emails and attachments that you send within it.
To thwart such security issues, digital signature and digital certificate items have been launched on the market. They perform various functions and one does not replace the other. In your everyday life, you might need both so, understanding what they are and how they make a difference to your protection online is nice.
A digital signature is, as the name suggests, a virtual signature. No, your handwritten signature is not scanned and a digital copy is made of it. It is instead a digital attachment to a file that defines the signer’s identity. It is difficult to change the identification or the contents of the text to which it is attached. If an effort is made to do so at all, the digital signature will be invalidated, making the entire document redundant.
In relation to the data exchanged across a digital medium, a digital signature helps to define the following:
Authenticity: to ensure that the receiver does not alter the contents of the document to which it is attached.
Integrity: Ensure that the same document containing the same data with integrity is obtained by both sender and recipient.
Non-repudiation: At a later point, prohibit the signer from refusing or not repudiating the signing of the contract.
A digital certificate is a small server file provided by a certification authority (CA). The CA is typically a reputable security entity such as an internet security agency, a technology firm, a government organisation, etc., which conducts a certificate applicant background check before issuing the certificate to them. The certificate establishes the validity and credibility of the details, such as the website’s ownership, the location, the name of the company that owns the domain, etc.
Here’s how a digital certificate in our digital world makes a difference:
– It ensures that the data flow is tamper-proof between the sender and the recipient.
– It prevents the eavesdropping of any unauthorised workers into the data exchange.
– It scrambles the information so that only the receiver with the decryption key has access to the actual data.
– By looking up the ownership of the sender, the receiver can verify the authenticity of the information.
To sign digital documents that are exchanged around the Internet, a digital signature is largely used. They maintain the document’s credibility and non-repudiation. On the other side, a digital certificate is used to protect the sharing of information over the Internet. They serve two distinct roles, both of which are integral to security online.