In this Article
What Is a Digital Signature?
What Does This Mean Technically?
What Is A Public Key Infrastructure and How Does It Help?
A Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a set of requirements that grants the creation of digital signatures. With PKI, a mathematical algorithm is used to generate two long numbers called keys. Each digital signature transaction has a public key and a private key. The public key is openly available and is used to validate the signer’s electronic signature. Unlike the public key, the private key is not shared and is used only by the signer to sign documents electronically. A PKI also enforces other requirements such as the Certificate Authority (CA), a digital certificate, end-user enrollment software, etc.
How Do Digital Signatures Work?
When users electronically sign a document, signatures are made with the signer’s private key. The mathematical algorithm is used as a cipher to create data matching the signed document to encrypt the data. The encrypted data is then called the digital signature and is marked with the time the document was signed. Any changes to the document after it was signed makes the digital signature invalid.
When Are Digital Signatures Used?
As is the case with written signatures, the purpose of a digital signature is to verify that the authenticity of the signing individual. A digital signature creates additional security by preventing forgery or changes to the document after it’s signed.
What Is the Difference Between Electronic Signatures and Digital Signatures?
A digital signature itself is not a type of electronic signature. Instead, the term digital signature refers to the encryption and decryption technology that secures the data associated with the signed document and helps verify the authenticity of a signed record.