What are the formats of digital signatures?

In this digital world, ensuring the security and authenticity of documents and transactions is paramount. DSCs play a crucial role in this regard, serving as digital identities that validate the integrity of online signatures. The importance and formats of digital signatures are essential for individuals and businesses to navigate securely and efficiently.

What is a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a cryptographically secure crucial issued by certifying authorities (CAs) to validate and verify the identity of the person who holds this certificate. DSCs are generally issued and utilized when businesses need to digitally sign documents online, securely authenticate the signature, and validate the signed copy.

Significance of DSC for Compliances

  • Individuals and entities must undergo account verification and submit their income tax returns using a DSC.
  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has a mandate for companies to file all reports, applications, and forms using a DSC.
  • Only by using a digital signature to validate the application can a business obtain GST registration.
  • DSC is necessary indeed for filing all government applications, amendments, and other affiliated forms.

What are the formats of Digital Signatures?

There are two formats of Digital signature instruments. 

  • PFX File
  • USB Token
What are the formats of digital signatures
  • PFX File
    • A PFX file is a digital signature certificate that’s in a file format (.pfx format).
    • This type of signature can be fluently circulated through e-mail, which makes it easier for users. Still, there’s a threat of misuse if not signature-led properly.
  • USB Token
    • A digital signature certificate in a USB Token looks analogous to a pen drive, which is attached to the PC for using a digital signature.
    • The main advantage of it is that it safeguards DSC from abuse which is more likely in a .pfx file. 

What is the type of Digital Signature Certificates?

  • Sign DSC 
    • This particular category of DSC is suitable for signing various documents.
    • The most popular operation of this type of DSC is signing the PDF file for filing on Government websites.
    • The integrity of the signer and the data is guaranteed when signing using DSC. It is proof of data that has been left unchanged.
  • Encrypt DSC
    • An Encrypt DSC is exclusively utilized for encrypting documents.
    • It’s substantially used in the tender gate to help the organization encrypt documents.
    • Encrypt DSC is useful for documents that are largely non-public and contain information that needs to be protected.
  • Sign & Encrypt DSC
    • Sign & Encrypt DSC can be used for both signing and encrypting.
    • A signature certificate is used to subscribe to a document, while an encryption certificate is used to encrypt the data.
    • It’s suitable for users who need to authenticate and maintain the confidentiality of the information shared. 

What is the validity of digital signatures?

DSCs are generally valid for one or two years; still, this certificate is renewable. Submit the request for renewal of the DSC not lower than 45 days before the expiry of the validity period for the DSC.

Who is the prescribed authority to issue the DSC?

To get the Digital Signature Certificate, the aspirant needs to apply to the Certifying Authority for the allocation of DSC. Under the Information Technology Act of 2000, the Certification Authorities are appointed by the Office of the Controller of Certification Agencies.


In conclusion, understanding the significance and formats of digital signatures is vital for safeguarding online transactions and complying with regulatory requirements. Whether using a PFX file or USB token, individuals and businesses can leverage digital signature certificates to authenticate digital documents securely and maintain the integrity of online transactions.

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1. What are the formats of Digital Signatures?

There are 2 formats of digital signatures: PFX File and USB Token. The PFX file allows for convenient circulation via email. On the other hand, the USB Token resembles a pen drive.

2. Which format is considered standard for digital signatures?

The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) format is the most widely used standard formats of digital signatures. It uses cryptographic techniques to provide a distinct digital signature for every document.

3. In what way do digital signatures usually appear in documents?

A digital signature, which attests to the identity of the signer and the integrity of the document, is frequently shown as a picture or a block of encoded text embedded within an electronic document.

4. Are digital signatures readily manipulated?

No, Digital signatures employ cryptographic techniques, they are extremely safe and impossible to tamper with. The signature’s validity and integrity would be compromised by any tampering with the signed document.

5. Are certain file formats better than others when it comes to digital signatures?

Although digital signatures may be applied to a variety of file types (such as .pdf and .docx), the pdf is the most often used, since it can safely include digital signatures while maintaining the document’s integrity.

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