Digital-signature meaning

A digital file attached to an e-mail or other electronic document that uses encryption and decryption algorithms to verify the document's origin and contents.
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A digital signature is the electronic equivalent of a person's physical signature. It is also a guarantee that information has not been modified, as if it were protected by a tamper-proof seal that is broken if the contents were altered.Signed CertificatesDigitally signed certificates verify the identity of an organization or individual. Signed certificates are widely used to authenticate a website and establish an encrypted connection for credit cards and confidential data (see digital certificate, SSL and TLS).Signed FilesFiles of any kind can be signed; however, a common application is "code signing," which verifies the integrity of executables downloaded from the Internet. Code signing also uses certificates (see code signing and digital certificate).An Encrypted DigestA digital signature is actually an encrypted digest of the data being signed. The digest is computed from the contents of the file by a one-way hash function (see below) and then encrypted with the private key of the signer's public/private key pair. To prove that the file was not tampered with, the recipient uses the public key of the signer to decrypt the signature back into the original digest, recomputes a new digest from the transmitted file and compares the two to see if they match. If they do, the file has not been altered in transit by an attacker. See RSA, MD5, SHA, public key cryptography and electronic signature.With and Without PrivacyThe following two diagrams show how digital signatures are used for data integrity in both non-private and private transmissions.
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A security mechanism issued by a certificate authority (CA) and appended to a digital certificate in order to allow a receiver to verify that a message has not been altered since its creation by a sender. See also CA and digital certificate.
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Representing a written signature found on paper, a digital signature is actually a digitalized code that can be included with a digital message to identify a sender. A digital signature must somehow guarantee that the person sending the digital message is really who he or she claims to be. Used in many electronic business transactions today, digital signatures must be not forgeable. Therefore, a number of encryption techniques are utilized to guarantee a high level of security with digital signatures. In the year 2000, a law was passed in the United States making it legitimate for legal documents to be signed using digital signatures. American Bar Association. Digital Signatures Guideline Tutorial. [Online, May 20, 2005.] American Bar Association Website. http://www.abanet.org/scitech/ec/isc/dsg-tutorial.html; Graham, R. Hacking Lexicon. [Online, 2001.] Robert Graham Website. http:// www.linuxsecurity.com/resource_files/documentation/hacking-dict.html.
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