Who am I?
I am your signature in digital format. Just as you authenticate a paper document with your handwritten signature, I authenticate electronic documents for you. You need a signing software like Word 2007 or Acrobat Professional on your computer system to use me.
What do I do?
I enable the “authentication” and “non-repudiation” of digital documents. This simply means that when I am affixed on an electronic document, I give the receiver an assurance about the identity of the person who sent the document and also the reliability of the document.
It gives the surety about the person who has sent the document and that the contents of the document have not been changed.
Where can you shop for me?
Controller of Certifying Authorities have approved certification agencies (CA), which can issue me as a certificate. As of now, there are eight CAs across India, including e-Mudhra Consumer Service Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. There are some online income tax portals that have tie ups with CAs and they too can issue me.
What’s my utility?
I come with three classes of certificates. With each class, my security level increases. With Class 1, you can send secure emails. class 2 lets you do non-monetary transactions such as e-filing of income-tax returns while class 3 can be used to send secure emails and make e-commerce transactions.
For class 1 and class 2, you have to provide the CA basic information and relevant documents such as identity proof, address proof and Permanent Account Number. If you are looking to buy class 3 digital signature certificate, it will be issued to you only if you make a personal visit to a CA. You can have two digital signature certificates—one for personal and one for official use.
For how long am i valid and how much do I cost?
I usually come with a one to two years validity period after which I have to be renewed.
My cost varies from CA to CA. It can range from a few hundred rupees to a couple of thousand rupees.