A digital signature is a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of a digital message or documents. A valid digital signature gives a recipient reason to believe that the message was created by a known sender, that the sender cannot deny having sent the message (authentication and non-repudiation), and that the message was not altered in transit (integrity).
Digital signatures are a standard element of most cryptographic protocol suites, and are commonly used for software distribution, financial transactions, and in other cases where it is important to detect forgery or tampering.
Digital signatures are often used to implement electronic signatures, a broader term that refers to any electronic data that carries the intent of a signature, but not all electronic signatures use digital signatures. In some countries, including the United States, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and Switzerland, electronic signatures have legal significance.