What is a digital signature

A digital signature is a specific mathematical code that is transmitted electronically in order to ensure that only the sender is able to authorize a digital message or document. Having a digital signature gives the receivers of digital documents confidence and the secure knowledge that only the sender has authenticated the document, therefore acting as an added security measure.

Digital signatures explained

A digital signature is an encrypted code on a digital message on document. The receiver of the document is required to present this special key in order to obtain the message. This secure mathematical code not only prevents forgery but it validates that the receiver is authorized by the sender to receive the document.

A digital signature consists of three specific algorithms, these are the following;

  • Key generation
  • Signing algorithm
  • Signature verifying algorithm

These specific numerical codes form an asymmetric cryptography. Digital signatures are widely used in order to carry out financial transactions and software distribution as they reduce the risk of forgery and tampering. Many universities, including University of Chicago, utilize digital signatures in order to publish yearly transcripts for their students. The students can only access their transcript once they present a digital signature.

The main advantages of using a digital signature are that it provides the sender and receiver added security as well as ensuring that the message is not imitated or forged by anyone else. Moreover, as a digital message or document is used through electronic means, it is easily transportable and is automatically time-stamped.