Though personal identification numbers and codes are being utilised in IT-based operations, fraudsters have found new mechanisms to break through the security net.

Digital signatures are expected to provide a better cover for ensuring security of online transactions but they remain an unfamiliar domain to many people.

Various government agencies are on a mission to expand the ambit of the operations in the arena with a view to decreasing the vulnerability of online financial operations.

A familiarisation programme on the various aspects of the digital signature project is being taken up by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.

The agency, in association with the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), a government body, will conduct a programme in Kochi next week as part of a nationwide scheme.

The digital signature project assumes significance in the background of the increase in net banking and web-based transfer of funds as well as online filing of tax returns, said a senior official of the CDAC.

The Reserve Bank of India intends to give greater focus on online transactions in tune with global trends. Banks and other financial bodies will have to comply with requirements for ensuring smooth transfer of funds online, the official said.

A public sector bank has already implemented the norms for facilitating use of digital signatures for online transactions, according to the official.

Other banks in the public and private sectors as well as various financial institutions and tax authorities are expected to follow suit.

There are a few certifying agencies for digital signatures and the National Informatics Centre is carrying out the work in Kerala.

The banks will have to use a plug-in module for successful implementation of the digital signature project, a senior official associated with the conduct of the programme told The Hindu.

It could mean upgrading the existing cyber system, but it would not result in substantial expenditure, the official said.

One of the challenges faced by the implementing agencies is the lack of awareness on the project.

The effort currently being undertaken by the CDAC and the CCA is to impart information on the public key infrastructure (PKI).

The public and private keys are part of the entire system of implementing the digital signature.

The programme is aimed at removing apprehension in the minds of the public, especially top government executives, CEOs and other officials involved in the implementation of the this project.

The familiarisation programme had already been held in several major centres in the country.

Digital signatures are expected to provide a better cover for ensuring security of online transactions.