What is the difference between digital signature and eSign?
Digital Signature schemes were first defined in 1984, while the first commercial product came in to being in 1989. It’s been more than 30 years since digital signature has been available for use in various formats. Though most people tend to confuse digital signature with an electronic signature and more often than not use them interchangeably.
In this article, we aim to define what each of these terms means and how do they differ from each other and from what we call an Aadhaar eSign?
What is a digital signature?
Digital signature is a mathematical sequence that is used to authenticate the validity of a digital message or a document.
in laymen terms, digital signature uses algorithms to add itself to a digital document or message that a receiver of the message can check to verify if the document sent to him/her is modified or is in the original format.
How does it work?
Here is a simple flow chart from which describes how digital signature works.
A sender generates 2 sets of keys one private and another public key to encrypt & decrypt the message sent. The public key is then shared with the receiver of the message. Once done, generates a hash that is encrypted using the private key and attached to the document or message being sent.
The receiver decrypts the hash on receiving the message and verifies the authenticity of the same. In case the message is tampered with, hash gets corrupted and becomes invalid.
What is an electronic signature or eSign?
Electronic signature or eSign, on the other hand, uses digital signature technology to create a data set that is associated with another data usually a document, which is used by a user to sign the said document.
Electronic signatures in most cases consist of an image of the original wet signature or in other formats a combination of the original signature, biometric signature, digital certificate, and digital signature. Which shows the intent of the person signing the document in question.
Though digital signature and electronic signatures are used interchangeably, they are fundamentally two different concepts. While the digital signature is used to authenticate the validity of the document i.e. the document hasn’t been changed or modified.
Electronic signature shows the intent of the signing party and is used in context with an agreement or legal document that requires the parties involved to agree to certain terms within it.
What is Aadhaar eSign?
Electronic signature is essentially an alternative for wet signatures, for a document to be esigned we need to have
- A digital certificate usually issued by central certification authorities of the country
- A verified signature of the person signing the document
eSign takes care of this using Aadhaar eKYC to verify the users identity and a certification authority like CCNA to assign digital certificates based on this verification. Both of which are embedded in the document to authenticate its legitimacy.
Overtime digital signature has been extensively used w.r.t to electronic signatures, though the underlying technology to encrypt a hash into a document remains the same these both are two different concepts used in different scenarios. An electronically signed document usually has a digital signature encrypted in it though vice-versa might not be true.
That’s about it folks. Until next time!