I'm new to the world of digital signatures and encryption and I'm trying to learn more.

I was wondering, how or if an authentication process (login or sign-in) can be performed using a digital signature or not.

I've thought of a scenario in which:

  1. A user creates login credentials (username, password and PIN code). The password and PIN are used to create a private key.

  2. The user tries to login via username & password. The password is compared to the one stored in the database and used to generate a key, which is also to be compared. If both match, then the user can login.

Does make any sense or should a public key be used?

  • I think you are confusing password hashing with digital certificates. They are related but different. The private key is normally as random as possible, but accessed using the password hash comparison. I would suggest Wikipedia which may help you frame your question better. Try "Digital Certificates" to start, but you may need to read a few articles.
    – Stone True
    Nov 21 '15 at 15:23

Client: I wanna login!

Server: Okay. Here's a piece of data. Do something to it that only you could do!

Client: Okay. Here 's your data back. I've added a signature with my secret key.

Server: Lemme just check ... Okay, welcome in!

This is a less than formal description of a challenge-and-response authentication protocol that uses signature. ;)

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