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A digital signature is a data item, which accompanies a digitally encoded message, and which can be used to ascertain both the originator of the message and the fact that the message has not been modified since it left the originator.It is a form of authentication method which is used to authenticate the identity of the sender by convincing the recipient of a document that the person to whom the signature belongs actually signed it. An electronic document in other words can be described as any instrument that is created or stored on a computer. These include electronic mail (e-mail), letters, memos, contracts and images.
Digital signatures are mathematically tied to the document they are intended to authenticate. The most widely used type of digital signature relies on public/private key encryption. A public / private key encryption system involves two mathematically related keys that are like large passwords for each user. The private key, known only by the “signer”, can encrypt a message that only their public key can decrypt. Once the private/public keys are generated using a valid certificate authority, they remain associated with the person who generates the two keys.
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