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A distinction is also made between symmetrical and asymmetrical procedures for digital signatures. Symmetrical signatures are called Message Authentication Code and asymmetrical ones are called electronic signatures.

Everyone is certainly familiar with digital signatures when sending or receiving e-mails. What is automatically sent at the end of an e-mail – especially when exchanging with business contacts – and usually consists of a combination of the author’s name and the company logo – is such a signature. Digital signatures are also used to secure web browsers, digital certificates, update software and sign digital contracts. From a mathematical point of view, a signature consists of a large natural number, for example 3000 bits long.

Legal references in Germany are the Signature Act (SigG) and in the USA the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN). According to Section 1 para. 1 SigG, the Signature Act creates the framework conditions for electronic signatures.