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What is a Digital Signature Certificate?

Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates.Examples of physical certificates are drivers’ licenses, passports or membership cards. Certificates serve as proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a driver’s license identifies someone who can legally drive in a particular country. Likewise, a digital certificate can be presented electronically to prove your identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.

Why is Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) required?

Like physical documents are signed manually, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.

Who issues the Digital Signature Certificate?

A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) issues the digital signature. Certifying Authority (CA) means a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature
certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000.

Class of Certificates:

In accordance to the guidelines of IT-Act and the X.509 Certificate Policy for India PKI published by Controller of Certifying Authorities,
Certifying Authorities issues 3 classes of Certificates, namely: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Each class of digital signature certificate is associated with
specific security features and corresponds to a specific level of trust.

Class 1 certificate:

Assurance Level: Class 1 certificates shall be issued for both business personnel and private individuals use. These certificates will confirm that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict  with the information in well-recognized consumer databases.

Applicability: This provides a basic level of assurance relevant to environments where there are risks and consequences of data compromise, but they are not considered to be of major significance.

Class 2 certificate

Assurance Level: These certificates will be issued for both business personnel and private individuals use. These certificates will confirm
that the information in the application provided by the subscriber does not conflict with the information in well-recognized consumer databases.

Applicability: This level is relevant to environments where risks and consequences of data compromise are moderate. This may include transactions having
substantial monetary value or risk of fraud, or involving access to private information where the likelihood of malicious access is substantial.

Class 3 certificate

Assurance Level: This certificate will be issued to individuals as well as organizations. As these are high assurance certificates, primarily intended for e-commerce applications, they shall be issued to individuals only on their personal (physical) appearance before the Certifying Authorities.

Applicability: This level is relevant to environments where threats to data are high or the consequences of the failure of security services are high. This may include very high value transactions or high levels of fraud risk.

Type of Certificates

In accordance to the guidelines of IT-Act and the X.509 Certificate Policy for India PKI published by Controller of Certifying Authorities,Certifying Authorities issues six types of certificates: Signature, Encryption, Device/System, SSL Server, Code Signing and Document Signer Certificate.

Signature Certificate:

The signature certificate is corresponding to the signing private key. It will be used by individuals or organizations for signing purpose.The key pair will be generated by applicant/subscriber in a secure medium and is inherent to keep his private key in safe custody. The signature certificate is issued by Certifying Authorities after the validation process mentioned in the CPS. The relying  parties can make use of this certificate for signature verification.

Encryption Certificate:

The encryption key pair is used by the subscriber for receiving encrypted messages which is encrypted using subscriber’s public key. The subscriber fills in the application and submits to its authorized RAs along with the identification and address proof. The RA verifies the application, id proof and address proof and approves the request. The Subscriber provides a password in the portal for protecting the encryption certificate. The server generates the encryption key, escrows and makes it available for the customer in the portal. The subscriber needs to login with the credentials sent to his digital id and download the encryption certificate from the portal.

SSL Server Certificate:

SSL server certificates are digital identifications containing information about web server and the organization that owns the server’s web content. An SSL server certificate enables users to authenticate the server, check the validity of web content, and establish a secure connection.

Code Signing Certificate:

Code signing certificate helps user to develop confidence in downloaded code. It allows users to identify the signer to determine if codes have been modified by someone other than the signer. Signed codes can be Java Applets, Java scripts, plug-in, ActiveX controls of any other kind of code.

Document Signer Certificate:

The Document Signer Certificates are issued to organizational software applications for operating automatically to authenticate documents/information attributed to the organization by using Digital Signature applied on the document, documents/Information.

Application of Digital Signature Certificates

MCA (ROC)

Digital Signature Certificate and Ministry of Corporate Affairs:

Any organization or firm can apply for a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) for transactions involving the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
However, business houses that exceed revenues of over INR 60 lakhs have to mandatorily use a Digital Signature Certificate while filing returns.
Under the provisions of law, a Digital Signature is considered as a legally admissible instrument.

There are various types of Digital Signature Certificates that cater to specific needs. While eFiling on the Ministry of Corporate
Affairs portal, a Digital Signature Certificate of Class 2 and Class 3 category is required. A Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate is available for download after verification based on a trusted and pre-verified database. A Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate, on the other hand, is of a higher level as it is issued only after the registrant’s identity verification has been done by a Registration Authority.

Digital Signature Certificates and Registrar of Companies:

Under provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000, usage of Digital Signatures on documents submitted in electronic form ensures  security and authenticity. Furthermore, companies that file under MCA21 e-Governance program have to use a Digital Signature that identifies  the authorized signatory of the company.

Why do I need a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate authenticates your identity electronically. It also provides you with a high level of security for your online transactions by ensuring absolute privacy of the information exchanged using a digital certificate. You can use certificates to encrypt information such that only  the intended recipient can read it. You can digitally sign information to assure the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and also  verify your identity as the sender of the message.

Where can I use Digital Signature Certificates?

You can use Digital Signature Certificates for the following:
For secure email and web-based transactions, or to identify other participants of web-based transactions.
To prove ownership of a domain name and establish SSL/ TLS encrypted secured sessions between your website and the user for web based transactions.
As a developer, for proving authorship of a code and retaining integrity of the distributed software programs.
For signing web forms, e-tendering documents, filing income tax returns, to access membership-based websites automatically without entering
a user name and password etc.

Income Tax

Easier e-Filing of Income Tax with Digital Signature Certificate.

A Digital Signature Certificate lets you file your Tax Returns easier and more secure. According to revised provisions under section 44AB of IT Act “E-Filing is mandatory for all the individuals/professionals having an annual gross receipt of INR 25 Lakhs and above, and for business  houses with annual turnover of INR 1 Crore and above.

Digital Signature Certificate and e-Filing of Incomes Taxes:

Use of a Digital Signature Certificate is mandatory for e-filing by a certain section of businesses, families, and individuals. For individuals businesses not covered by the latest mandate, a Digital Signature Certificate assures greater convenience while filing tax returns, and greater security during any electronic transactions.

Why do I need a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate authenticates your identity electronically. It also provides you with a high level of security for your online transactions by ensuring absolute privacy of the information exchanged using a digital certificate. You can use certificates to encrypt information  such that only the intended recipient can read it. You can digitally sign information to assure the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and also verify your identity as the sender of the message.

Where can I use Digital Signature Certificates?
You can use Digital Signature Certificates for the following:

For secure email and web-based transactions, or to identify other participants of web-based transactions.
To prove ownership of a domain name and establish SSL/ TLS encrypted secured sessions between your website and the user for web based transactions.
As a developer, for proving authorship of a code and retaining integrity of the distributed software programs.
For signing web forms, e-tendering documents, filing income tax returns, to access membership-based websites automatically without entering a user name and password etc.

E-Tender

eTendering made possible with Digital Signature Certificate.

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is essential for companies and organizations that take part or intend to take part in eTendering processes on various  Government sites. Besides enabling eTendering which is extremely convenient and transparent, a Digital Signature Certificate also ensures greater  security in other online transactions.

Digital Signature Certificate and e-Tendering:

e-Procurement facilitates, integrates, and streamlines procurement processes. From buyer to supplier and even back. Approved under the Information Technology Act, and with legal status, a Digital Signature Certificate is essential for all e-Procurement processes. Applying for a government tender online has many advantages. Since documents are uploaded to a central site, acknowledgements and receipts are provided immediately.

Which is not the case with paper documents that need to be scanned and verified before being processed? E-Procurement has gained significant popularity and acceptance as it brings greater transparency to the whole system. Among other benefits, it helps  buyers and bidders overcome geographical limitations, reduce procurement cycles, and overall helps keep pace with present technology.
Any organization that is looking to apply for any Government e Tender needs to have a Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate registered in the  name of a representative who is authorized to submit online offers for e-Tendering applications.

Why do I need a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate authenticates your identity electronically. It also provides you with a high level of security for your online transactions by
ensuring absolute privacy of the information exchanged using a digital certificate. You can use certificates to encrypt information such that only the intended
recipient can read it. You can digitally sign information to assure the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and also verify your identity
as the sender of the message.

Where can I use Digital Signature Certificates?
You can use Digital Signature Certificates for the following:

For secure email and web-based transactions, or to identify other participants of web-based transactions.
To prove ownership of a domain name and establish SSL/ TLS encrypted secured sessions between your website and the user for web based transactions.
As a developer, for proving authorship of a code and retaining integrity of the distributed software programs.
For signing web forms, e-tendering documents, filing income tax returns, to access membership-based websites automatically without entering a user name and password etc.

Foreign Trade

Foreign Trade made possible with Digital Signature Certificate.
Foreign Trade and Digital Signature Certificates

Export and Import Organizations (EXIM organizations) can apply for licenses online which means that they can also file accompanying documents electronically on
the DGFT website.

Since a Digital Signature Certificate ensures authenticity of the document, DGFT has mandated use of Digital Signature Certificates with all electronic
documents uploaded on the DGFT site. This means that every EXIM Organization needs to necessarily have a Digital Signature Certificate for transactions
related to the DGFT website. On validating the identity of the sender, authenticity of the documents and validity of the DSC, DGFT then processes the documents
for license issuance.

In addition to convenience, online submission of applications on the DGFT website also means a 50% reduction in license fee for EXIM Organizations.
Organizations’ can prevent fraudulent practices such as identity thefts by filing bills of entry using a Digital Signature Certificate. If an organization is
filing documents through Custom House Agents, it is important that all documents filed are accompanied by a DSC. A Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate is essential for any organization seeking an Import or an Export License that needs to be registered in the name of one representative authorized to represent the organization.

Since a Digital Signature Certificate is recognized by the legal system, all documents submitted using a Digital Signature Certificate is considered on
par with physically signed documents, and also attract benefits endowed upon them through the Indian Information Technology Act 2000.

Why do I need a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate authenticates your identity electronically. It also provides you with a high level of security for your online transactions by ensuring absolute privacy of the information exchanged using a digital certificate. You can use certificates to encrypt information such that only the intended recipient can read it.You can digitally sign information to assure the recipient that it has not been changed in transit, and also verify your identity as the sender of the message.

Where can I use Digital Signature Certificates?

You can use Digital Signature Certificates for the following:

For secure email and web-based transactions, or to identify other participants of web-based transactions.
To prove ownership of a domain name and establish SSL/ TLS encrypted secured sessions between your website and the user for web based transactions.
As a developer, for proving authorship of a code and retaining integrity of the distributed software programs.
For signing web forms, e-tendering documents, filing income tax returns, to access membership-based websites automatically without entering a user name
and password etc.

Employee Provident Fund

Now employers in India can use eMudhra Class 2 Gold or Class 3 Platinum Digital Signature Certificates for submitting their employee PF transfer claim form online.

Digital signature certificates make your work easier, convenient and cost saving in handling your employee PF transfer claim forms. Now the authorized signatories of employer’s can digitally sign using digital signature certificates and submit the form online in Employer Online Transfer Claim Portal.

Digital Signature Certificate and Employer Online Transfer Claim Portal:

EPFO has introduced a new system to facilitate online submission of transfer claims by Members with an objective to make the transfer process transparent, efficient and comfortable for your employees. A member has an option to submit his claim either through his present employer or the previous one.

Employer can see all such claim requests with ease, verify/correct member details, approve and submit the requests online through this portal. For online submission of the claims, the Digital signature (Class 2 or above) of the authorized person is required.

There are various types of Digital Signature Certificates that cater to specific needs. While digitally singing in Employer Transfer Claim portal, a Digital Signature Certificate of Class 2 and Class 3 category is required.

A Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate is available for download after verification based on a trusted and pre-verified database.
A Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate, on the other hand, is of a higher level as it is issued only after the registrant’s identity verification has been done by a Registration Authority.