In today’s world, it is really common to share your personal or impersonal documents. These documents can therefore sometimes contain sensitive information for example financial statements, legal contracts, and even financial transactions. So for the better safety of your document, it is necessary to encrypt them to ensure that they are saved from prying eyes. There are a lot of hackers these days that are just waiting to find a weak prey and steal their credentials. So if you do want to send your documents via the e-space and also keep your e-commerce documents safe then use a digital signature. A digital signature provides the surety that the customer had agreed to the terms of the seller and cannot deny it afterward. When a customer digitally sings an online purchase or order then the seller can be sure of who the buyer is, when was the order generated and can verify if there were any problems with his terms or transits.
The digital signature was introduced back in 1976 as a method of public-key cryptography. However, it was not until recently that the government and companies started using it for electronic sale and buy, more commonly known as e-commerce.
What Is a Digital Signature?
A digital signature is a technology that was made as a secure pathway for digital shops using public-key cryptography. In this, you have two keys that are a private key and a public key. The Digital signature technology provides you with a private key that is used to sign the document on your behalf and the public key is send to the receiver. This way receivers can use the public key sent to them to authenticate the document. It is also used with an electronic signature software to make things more secure.
However, you basically use your private key to generate a Hash encryption message. This hash goes through your document and keep track of the content inside. This way when the sender receives the document and uses the public key sent by you to reverse the encryption. The sender observes the original hash he then combines them both and if the hashes match then it means that there was no tempering in the document. Although, if it does not match then it means that the document was corrupted in the transfer.
What is a hash? Well, it is an encryption method that works like a one-way street. This algorithm generates a message that can’t be used to derive the original message. So it is very much safe and secure to use it. There is also zero chances of a hash algorithm to generate the same hash for two different documents.
Message Digest 5 (MD5) that can produce a 128-bit hash and Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1) that can produce a 160-bit hash are the most commonly used hash algorithms.
Trust Modes of Public key:
A public key that is generated with your document’s private key needs to be published by you. This publication implies that either the public key is placed on an organization’s network so that all your employees can access it. Or you will have to send your public key directly to the user. You can not keep your public key hidden and secure like you must keep your private key. Your private key is only to be seen by your eyes but the public key needs to be shared so therefore it is very essential that there is some kind of trust about the public key between the two parties. It is a crucial part as there are hackers that can impose as you and send a fake public key and document. So in simple terms, a public key trust mode can’t be ignored.
There are two methods of this i.e. direct trust and third party trust. These modes are pretty easy to understand and much is implied by their names.
In this method, you will pass the public key to the receiver directly as you two know each other and can do so privately or securely. This way there will be no more threats.
In the third party method, you and the receiver don’t know each other and can’t exchange keys securely yourself. So you use a middle man to exchange the keys.
Usually, the direct method is used in a small group of companies whereas the third party method is used by large companies.
Certification of public keys is necessary when working with a third party. This is called Certificate Authority (CA) and is a trustworthy organization that certifies your public keys. And if there is any sort of issue with the public key then these CAs can be contacted to solve the issue.
Under particular circumstances, it is mandatory to timestamp the document. FO example if you send a contract that was supposed to be sent before a contract expires then your document will be rejected. So it is always the best option to send a timestamp with your document.
Digital Signature Software:
These products are not really hard to use in fact they are pretty easy. There are three ways to classify the digital signature function in any such software i.e. email only, Solo for files only and Entrust/ Entelligence for both email and files.
There is no real concept of interoperability in between this software for now except for one i.e. standard Secure MIME (S/MIME) email. SO don’t use someone else’s software to verify and someone else’s software for the signature. Use the same software as your business partner.
There are different regulations for different governments throughout the world. For example, if you look at the government of the united states then you can observe that they do no regulate the signatures but they do forbid the export of encryption larger than 56-bit.
So be smart and always use a digital signature or better yet an electronic signature software for your documents.