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Digital Signatures can be considered as the electronic equivalent of a physical signature with ink on paper. However an electronic signature also provides certain advantages over an ink-and-paper signature. It can secure and protect a digital document by creating a signing fingerprint uniquely identifying a sender. The recipient of the document and signature confidence of the sender's identity validates that the document has not been altered by anyone else since it was signed.
Some of these main advantages are:
A digital signature allows precise identification of who created/signed a document. It can be safely assumed that when a signature is valid, you know who signed it.
A digital signature allows users to easily validate whether the contents of a document were changed after it was signed.
A digital signature ensures that the signer cannot deny that they signed the document.
PDFTron SDK benefits include:
A digital signature will generate a unique value (hash / digest) from the combination of the document data and private key. During verification, the document data and public key is used to generate the exact same unique value (hash / digest). If these unique values match then we can say the data has not been altered and the digital signature is valid.
An e-signature is an annotation that appears in the document but has no additional identifiable information about the creator other than an author field which can be altered.
A digital signature on the other hand uses a cryptographic algorithm to uniquely identify the author and any alterations to the document including the annotations or e-signature would result in an invalid digital signature validation.
A cryptographic digital signature can use a certificate authority (CA) to act as a trusted third party between a sender and other parties.
The CA will issue a digital certificate which contains a public key and the identity of the owner. A matching private key is not made available publicly, but kept secret by the end user who generated the key pair. The certificate is also a confirmation or validation by the CA that the public key contained in the certificate belongs to the person, organization, server or other entity noted in the certificate. A CA's obligation in such schemes is to verify an applicant's credentials, so that users and relying parties can trust the information in the CA's certificates. CAs use a variety of standards and tests to check this information. In essence, the certificate authority is responsible for saying "yes, this person is who they say they are, and we, the CA, certify that".
For security and legal purposes, a public key owner must be verifiable and it is common to use a public key infrastructure (PKI) where the public key owner is validated by a CA. Since a public key is used to validate a cryptographic signature then a digital signature and a CA work together to authenticate the owner and the data.
No. The CA is required in use cases where a third party entity needs to be involved between a sender and other parties. If a CA is not used then a digital signature can instead use a self-signed certificate as shown in our digital signature sample or demo for example. PDFTron does not provide CA services so it is the responsibility of users creating a digital signature workflow to use a CA if it is required for your use cases.
We provide a built-in PKCS#12 parser that enables signing using existing certificates with the '.pk12' or '.pfx' file extensions. Instead of using a private key file, a buffer containing certificate data can be passed. As a third option, you may write your own signature handler for signing in different signature formats and/or with different identity formats.
Sign a PDF Document
To digitally sign a PDF document
Certify a PDF Document
To certify a PDF document
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