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How to obtain a digital signature

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How to obtain a digital signature: Have you ever heard of the digital signature? It is a tool that allows you to give legal value to documents in electronic format. It can be used to validate digital documents, communicate with the Public Administration and computerize corporate communications.

It is suitable for both private citizens and companies and today we will see together how to get one. If you are also interested in the subject and want to know how to obtain a digital signature, you just have to read this tutorial and choose the solution that best suits your needs. I already anticipate that it is a tool for everyone: getting it does not cost much (contrary to what some might think) and, as if this were not enough, it is also simple to use.

So, what are you doing still standing there? Courage: make yourself comfortable, take all the time you need to concentrate on reading the next paragraphs and, more importantly, try to put into practice the instructions I will give you. I am convinced that, at the end of this reading, you will no longer have any doubts about how to obtain a digital signature. Enjoy the reading!

Types of digital signature

Before getting into the subject, it is good that you know exactly which ones types of digital signature exist and which of these is right for you. Basically there are four types, each of which has different characteristics and legal value.

  • “Simple” electronic signature – this type of signature, which can be affixed simply by scanning the signature on a paper document or by reproducing it directly on a touch screen it has no legal value because it is not possible to prove its authenticity: only the judicial authority has the right to declare this type of signature authentic or not.
  • Advanced electronic signature – it is a type of signature that it has certain legal value, except in cases where real estate contracts are stipulated. It is generated through the use of IT tools that allow to demonstrate the integrity of the document, over which the person who signs has direct and exclusive control.
  • Qualified electronic signatureit has certain legal value, as it is one of the most advanced types of digital signature. To apply it it is necessary to have the appropriate ones kit issued by accredited certification bodies.
  • Electronic digital signature – this type of signature has full legal valueas it involves the aid of asymmetric cryptographic systems, in which a pair of keys, one of which is public and one private, is used to verify the originality and integrity of the documents that are signed by the user.

I conclude this chapter by mentioning the CNS certified (National Service Card), which is included in many digital signature kits and thanks to which it is possible to authenticate on Public Administration services. Since this is mandatory for some categories of professionals (for example lawyers), as it also allows access to ministerial services, take this into account when purchasing a digital signature kit.

I also remind you that the CNS certificate can allow you to electronically sign documents, but its legal value is variable (some types of CNS support advanced electronic signature, while others only simple electronic signature).

Digital signature kit

As I mentioned in the previous chapterto have a digital signature is necessary purchase a special kitwhich may include various types of devices necessary to certify one’s identity and which may have prices ranging between 30 and 60 euros.

What devices are included in the digital signature kits? Typically, digital signature kits include one physical smart card which includes the digital signature certificate, which has a term (usually three years) and, therefore, must be renewed periodically. The kits also include the smart card reader which allows you to apply the signature, i driver ei software (the latter, if not included in the kit, can be downloaded from the website of the certifying body).

There are various types of digital signature kits. The most complete is the one in format USB pendrive, which usually includes the smart card with the digital signature certificate in SIM format, the software needed to apply and verify the signature and also a certain amount of storage to archive documents. Then there are the USB token, which are cheaper than thumb drives, but do not include the software and drivers needed to digitally sign documents. Both USB sticks and USB tokens often include the CNS certificate.

Other kits, on the other hand, consist of a smart card and from a external smart card reader. This configuration is somewhat inconvenient, because they are rather bulky devices, but which on their side have the advantage of being cheaper than USB kits.

I also point out the availability of remote digital signature kitwhich give the possibility to sign documents without using keys or physical smart cards, as everything happens thanks to the use of a “virtual” smart card, a disposable password that is generated by an OTP key (such as those provided by banks) or sent via SMS and signature and verification software.

Get a digital signature

How to obtain the digital signature

Now the time has finally come to understand how to obtain a digital signature. I anticipate that succeeding is not at all complicated: just buy the digital signature kit from one of the certification bodies recognized in Italy and follow the instructions provided on the latter’s website, in order to complete the purchase and verify your identity.

The first step you need to take is, as already mentioned, to purchase the digital signature kit that seems more suited to your needs. To do this, connect to the website of the certification body you prefer to contact (eg. Aruba, Italian post, InfoCert, Andtc.) and choose one of the kits available for purchase.

In the event that you are the owner of a business, know that you can also request a digital signature kit from Chamber of Commerce territorial jurisdiction: to search for the nearest office, I suggest you do a search on Google (or any other search engine), searching for “digital signature of the chamber of commerce [nome della tua città]“.

When you have finally chosen the kit to buy, you must proceed to create an account on the website of the chosen certification body and complete the purchase by providing one of the accepted payment methods (e.g. credit card, PayPal, etc.), by entering the your personal data in the appropriate form and, finally, by uploading a valid identity document.

The second step consists in proceeding to the verification of their identity which can also be done at the time of purchase according to one of the following methods.

  • Through Public Official – to verify your identity in this way, you must go to the Municipality with a valid identity document and with all the documentation provided by the certifying body. The identification, then, is done by a Public Official and also requires the purchase of a revenue stamp.
  • Via dispatch center or post office – in this case, the verification takes place by going to a courier center that has been chosen by the body to deliver the kit. Also in this case, it is necessary to show a valid identity document and pay some fees related to the practice.
  • Home – in this case it is the postman who has been instructed to deliver the digital signature kit to ascertain the identity of the user, who is required to show a valid identity document and to sign the documentation accompanying the kit.
  • Via webcam – some certification bodies offer the possibility to carry out the recognition online, using the computer webcam.

The third and final step it’s aboutactivation of the kit, which can be done by connecting to the website of the certification body from which it was purchased and providing the data requested by the latter. Usually, you need to provide the smart card serial code, social security number and some documents for identity verification, but since the procedure may vary from one organization to another, I urge you to carefully follow the instructions that will be given to you. provided on the latter’s site to avoid problems. Understood?

Use digital signature

How to obtain the digital signature

Once you’ve finally gotten and activated the kit you bought and activated, you can apply the digital signature on your documents. To do this, however, you must first take care of the download of drivers and signature software necessary to give legal validity to the documents you need to sign (if you have purchased a USB kit, you should not need to do so since the drivers and signing software are already included).

Once this is done, applying the digital signature is quite simple. Usually it is enough to start the signature software provided by the certifying body that provided you with the kit, press the button Signature and select the documents you want to authenticate (eg PDF files, Word documents, etc.).

As for the output format, i.e. the format of the files that is obtained after signing them, know that you can choose between P7M encryption envelope (a file in P7M format that contains both the original document and the signature files), PDF (on which it is possible to make the signature visible or not) or XML.

For more information on how to digitally sign a document and how to digitally sign, I suggest you take a look at the insights I have just linked to you. They will surely be useful to you.