The advent of Goods and Services Tax, popularly known as GST, has brought the biggest ever appeal for the usage of Digital Signature Certificates in Assam. Prior to this, the knowledge and usage of this particular signature was limited to the people applying for various govt. and public tenders in Assam.
Let us discuss ‘what is a digital signature?’
Basically, a digital signature is the way to assure that a document in any electronic format like an email or a spreadsheet or text files etc. is authentic. A digital signature contains the detail of the signer in a very secure and encrypted way. This secure way makes it impossible to copy a digital signature by others, hence protecting the purpose of identity and indemnity.
A digital signature is signature in binary form that is machine (computer) readable. By readable we mean an encryption in a machine which is obviously decryptable in a machine.
In layman terms, a digital signature is the encrypted and secure version of a signature of an individual or an organization. And it is stored either in a particular PC or an eToken (a pen-drive type device used to store the digital signature).
There are 3 types of digital signatures, and they are Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Out of these three, the most commonly used is the Class 2.
How does it work?
Digital signatures work with certain encryption and authentication processes.
The process of getting all the data that one computer is sending to another and encoding it into a machine (computer) de-codable format is known as encryption.
And the process of getting that information verified that it is indeed coming from a trusted source is known as authentication. These two processes are the life blood for the digital signatures to work.
In layman terms, to use a digital signature issued by a certifying agency (which is approved by the Controller of Certifying Authorities, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, GoI), one needs to apply for it through proper channels. There are 9 certifying agencies as approved by GoI for digital signature certificates as of date, and they are: eMudhra, nCode, NSDL, Capricorn, CDac, NIC, TCS, SafeScrypt and DRBT.
Once approved and the eToken is delivered, the holder can sign any document (word, excel, PDF) using his private key contained in his digital signature.
General usage of digital signature is seen in GST returns, income tax returns, tender filings etc.
The Application Procedure:
The application for a digital signature certificate can either be online or offline. To apply online, one can visit the website of the certifying agency of his choice.
There are 2 types of document verification processes available for a DSC. One is paperless eKYC through Aadhar and the other is with attested documents.
Digital Signature Service Providers in Assam:
In Assam, there are a number of digital signature vendors who provide the same under the banner of one of those nine certifying agencies. Digital signature providers are readily available in Guwahati, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat and Sivsagar.
Though the term digital signature is anonymously used for digital signature certificates, both are not the same in it’s meaning and content.
As described by TechTarget, “Digital certificates are used to verify the trustworthiness of a website, while digital signatures are used to verify the trustworthiness of information”.