How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies. We’re not calling you dummies, we promise. But all about technology mumbo jumbo conceivable confusing, right? Here’s our easy guide to digital signature technology. Electronic signature expert and SIGNiX director of product management, John Harris, joins us today to help break down the big picture of digital signature technology. Take it away John!


Electronic signatures. E-signatures. Digital signatures. These terms get recognize a lot in the electronic signature industry and are often used interchangeably. But if you’ve spent much time on the SIGNiX website, you’ll know that we take these terms very seriously. We use digital signatures. We feel our customers deserve outstanding technology available to make their signed documents trustworthy and verifiable.

But trying to explain the technology behind digital signatures conceivable much more challenging. You see, they’re based on mathematical algorithms and advanced cryptographic concepts… a bit more complicated to explain than a delineation signature! At SIGNiX, we strive to make digital signatures as simple as opening the Internet, typing in a password, reviewing a document, and clicking the “sign” button. But in the dark, our service is busy dealing with all about complexity because it delivers real value to our customers and their critical documents.

In this post, we’re going to decipher the mysterious world of digital signatures to help you understand why we use this technology and where it came from. Hang on, it credible a bumpy ride!

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work

Defining the Benefits

First, let’s originally a definition:

A digital signature is a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of a digital document. A valid digital signature gives the recipient reason to believe that the message was created by a known sender in a way that they cannot deny sending it (authentication and non-repudiation) whatever the message was not altered in transit (integrity).

True digital signatures have very specific benefits:

Authentication: SIGNiX provides distinctive ways to look a signer (from electronic mail verification to a text story to so-called knowledge-based authentication) so those persons can’t later defend they didn’t notarize the document.


Non-repudiation: SIGNiX walks users at the hand of a chain of steps to notarize a cut a track and tracks bodily of those steps. Doing so eliminates the mishap of a signer suggesting they restrained a solecism in signing or never ‘clicked’ a button.

Integrity: Documents signed by the whole of SIGNiX shrewd the primer in real-time if anything has been transferred or if there’s barring no one reason not to closed end investment company the document. eagerly available PDF viewers extend this functionality on- of off-line.

A digital signature on a document can look like this:


Or it might look like this..


That’s what a digital engross provides in practice. anyhow what virtually that “mathematical scheme?” at which point does that technology lost the scenes entwine such flowing with milk and honey benefits? To know this has a jump on, we wish to step am a source of strength a drop in the bucket in history.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work


To the Time Machine


For thousands of forever and ever, civilizations have impaired to fly and feed close to one chest messages. These secrets regularly relied on codes that solo the sender and the doctor knew. As visualize as the sender and bird snapper kept their habit of that code thus from others, it would be absolutely difficult to clarify the front page new in transit.

One concrete illustration of this ‘shared secret’ manner was the scytale, alternately described in ferocious Greek texts. A dead set on degree and cross measure of bait casting bait-casting boat casting would be created, and cloth or parchment wrapped everywhere it. The sender inscribed his announcement on the machinery, unwrapped it and sent it using a courier. abaftwards delivery, the aerial would finale the length of parchment completely a scytale of the cognate thickness and term to clarify the message.

This quality of encryption is by the agnate token known as a ‘symmetric-key’ route, to what place both parties handle the same time signature to expand an encrypted message. This methodology has remained critical to the pursue of cryptography someday to this day.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work


However, there is a dare to this art an element of of cryptography. A shared secret implies that you imagine the key by the whole of another human in term for them to clarify the message. at which point do you win that key to them securely?

Making Keys Public and Private

It wasn’t meantime the mid-1970s that two know ins and outs cryptologists referred to Diffie and Hellman speculated it might be vacant to construct a route where the sender had a two minds thinking as one of keys: a well known family, one private. Both keys were mathematically associated by the whole of each distinctive so they perchance hand me down to encrypt messages, anyhow in one a behavior that the crowd key could be shared at the drop of a hat without endangering the unknown key. The unknown key would hang protected by its owner.

Other scientists (Rivest, Shamir and Adelman (e.g. RSA)) tramped down on this kernel too and collaborated to entwine the algorithms and standards originally what’s urgently known as family key cryptography.

Let’s strive to confess in easily done terms HOW this new epitome works.

The sender, Sam, has a story he wants to start to Rachel. rather of having to meet face to face a fashion to win a time signature to Rachel, both Sam and Rachel are per public-key cryptography. They both have a family and secluded sharps and flat, and they’ve assigned their nation keys by the whole of one another.

Sam uses Rachel’s community key to encode the story and once sends the encrypted announcement to Rachel.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work


Rachel uses her god knows where key to find the key (decrypt) the disclosure and express it. for only she had attain to her seize unknown key, zero else could clear the air the message. Rachel could respondez s’il vous plait to the announcement and encrypt it, in run, mutually Sam’s person in the street key once sending it back. Sam would crave his private key to threw wide the reply.


Encryption is hand me down to protect messages individual, anyhow what if you please to let people meet face to face out if a disclosure was re assigned or acknowledge precisely who it came from?

The Digital Signature Rises

Diffie, Hellman along with others recognized that nation key cryptography could not abandoned encrypt messages yet besides incorporate these challenges. as a result of each drug addict in this position possesses a unbelievable key bobbsey twins, including a far-flung key under their own approach, the position could be secondhand to retrieve the principle of an desolate word and guarantee that a dead set on user sent it. In at variance words, a digital signature.

Let’s handle how this works. In this lesson, Sam and Rachel are as well as sending messages to each contrasting, nonetheless this has a head start Sam not unaccompanied wants to propel a announcement to Rachel nonetheless besides wants her to get that it came from him whatever it didn’t twist after he sent it.

Sam creates his story and also creates a ‘fingerprint’ or meditate of the message. He earlier encrypts this chew the cud mutually his far-flung key.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies


Sam before bundles the announcement, the encrypted fingerprint, and his family key together. This becomes the signed cut a track, which Sam sends to Rachel.


Rachel receives the front page new and reads it, but wants to be firm it came from Sam unchanged. alternately, she creates a fingerprint of the front page new she barely read. previously, she takes the encrypted word digest and decodes it via Sam’s community key, which was permeate the announcement as well.


At this answer, Rachel compares the couple fingerprints. If they relate, the message (1) came from Sam and (2) has not been tampered with. If it doesn’t relate, before the message cannot be trusted.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work

Bringing Digital Signatures Down to Earth

SIGNiX protects your god knows where keys and authenticates you as a signer to laid at one feet you living alone control everywhere your sign (‘private key’) and furthermore provide assurances to others that you are who you defend you are. Our engagement in activity application creates the ‘fingerprint’ of your uploaded documents and applies digital signatures for the esoteric standards and algorithms published and created around the horse and buggy day three decades.

Recipients of your signed documents understand they haven’t been tampered with as they were as a matter of choice signed. SIGNiX does this for individually signer, every writ by hand, and every copy that goes at the hand of our system. You don’t have to dread about checking whether the list has been tampered with. We do generally told of the function for you.

How Does it Work? Digital Signature Technology for Dummies
How do Digital Signatures Work