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Verifying Digital Signatures

In this modern era, the use of digital signatures had become more common and significant in the transaction processes involving individuals, corporate bodies as well as government sectors.

Digital signatures as the name implies are signatures configured or signed using digital technology. In other words, they are digitally produced from the holders’ signature signed electronically on documents certificates and almost all forms of documentation. It should be noted that digital signatures are different from electronic signatures (e-signatures). Although digital signatures are signed electronically.

Unique features that can only be used to identify the holder of the digital signature are encoded in the process of the technology that produces the digital signature. Holders of digital signatures are issued a special pin and digital certificate. Hence, digital signature adds unique code to a message that only comes from the digital ID held by the true sender.

 Today, digital signatures enjoy the description of being one of the most secure type of confirming the signing of classified or high level document.  This is because anytime the holder signs a document, the signed document and the holder’s digital signature can be revalidated by a Certificate Authority CA or  Trust Service Provider TSP for up to a decade after the signing event.

Many top corporate organizations and Governments’ officials use digital signatures. These include Medical institutions, Banks, Mortgage institutions, Insurance Corporations, etc. This is more likely due to the fact that digital signatures use a certificate-based digital identification system (ID) which is usually only issued by an accredited Certificate Authority (CA) or Trust Service Provider (TSP). Digital signatures are uniquely always bound to the document with encryption (coded information).

A coded information implies that there is a hidden key or clue which increases the security and empowers the degree of secrecy and confidentiality of the document in question.

Digital signatures are now be signed electronically by the use of software produced by top Trust Service Provider TSP. Note that there are regulatory laws and terms and conditions guiding the use of these software. Examples of Trust Service Provider TSP that can provide Digital signature software include;

  • CoSign 
  • AssureSign
  •    GoPaperless
  • Adobe EchoSign 
  • DocuSign 
  • Sertifi 
  • CoSign
  • e-SignLive
  • RPost

 How to verify Digital Signatures

Digital signatures can be verified using the basic technology known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).  Basically, digital signatures can verified using an algorithm that takes three inputs:

1.     The data sent or  message,

2.    the digital signature (which is the message encrypted with private key) and

3.    The public key.

When someone using digital signature sends a document to the receiver, the original message or data is called the plaintext. A standard digital signature works by hashing the plaintext first. For message signing, only the hash is encrypted. Since both the sender and the recipient can hash the plaintext, they should get the same result. A digital signature requires the sender to append the hash to message, and he encrypts the hash with his private key.

The process of verification follows a simple routine. When the sender encrypted the hash with his private key, the recipient should know that only the sender's public key will allow him to decrypt a hash that matches the plaintext. This is the basic principle behind digital signing and verification of digital signatures.

In order to verify the plaintext, the recipient decrypts the hash attached to the message. Then he computes a hash for the plaintext on his own. If his computed hash matches the decrypted hash, then he knows the message has not been changed. However, in a situation where his computed hash does not match the decrypted hash, then the data or message just received should not and cannot be trusted.

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