Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What are Digital Signatures and How Do They Work?

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Nicole Laskowski: It's a paperless world and

digital transactions and document sharing are the

norm. But there is a problem. Digital documents

are more prone to security risks than a physical

paper copy delivered from place to place. That's

why digital signatures are so important because

they are a mathematical way of verifying the

authenticity of digital messages to prevent

forgery and tampering in the sending and receiving

process. Think of them as the digital equivalent

of a handwritten signature or a stamp seal.

Digital signatures not only prevent impersonation,

but provide evidence of electronic messages

origin, identity and status, as well as a signer's

informed consent. Digital signatures are based on

asymmetric cryptography, a process that protects

sensitive information with two mathematically

linked keys: a private key, which is only known to

the person it belongs to; and a public key, which

is shared with anyone who needs to access the

digital message. Encrypting and decryption

signature-related data relies on both the sender

and the receiver's respective private and public

keys. This security banks on the trust that the

sender's private key has not been shared with

anyone else. There are three different classes of

digital signatures, each with different levels of

security and legality. Class one signatures

provide a basic level of security for low risk

environments and are not legally binding for

business documents. Class two signatures

authenticate a signee's identity against a

pre-verified database. These signatures are used

in higher-risk environments where there's a

moderate consequence with data compromise, like

e-filing tax documents. Class three signatures

require a person to present in front of a

certifying authority to prove identity before

signing. This is reserved for e-tendering,

e-ticketing, and court filings where a breach or

compromise results in major consequences.

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