August 18, 2011
A trend describes “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving”. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Technological trends are not solely related to the progression of advanced technology, but rather to user acceptance. Replacing paper with electronic forms and signing transactions is gradually becoming a common practice in businesses and organisations of all sizes. Managers, board members, and shareholders can clearly see the benefits of reduced operational and processing costs, improved efficiency, increased business visibility, and their positive effects on the environment.
However, it is two additional components that have contributed substantially to business implementation of the online signing trend:
- Worldwide acceptance and legal enforcement of electronic signatures
- High security level offered with PKI digital signature technology
A very recent publication by The Network of e-Government Leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean (RED GEALC) on 17 August reflects and emphasises these trends and the establishment of digital signature use.
Online document signing with a digital signature is not specific to one particular country or industry. Secured Signing’s compliant and highly secured, user-based, PKI digital signature solution is implemented daily around the globe by airlines, recruitment agencies, legal firms, accountants, finance and communication companies, government departments, real estate agents, retail businesses, and many more. The trend of shifting from paper signing to an electronic signature process that uses a trusted digital signature service is, in fact, a part of a greater life cycle that drives productivity, efficiency, and creates real business value.
“The genius of investing is recognising the direction of a trend – not catching highs and lows.” (anonymous)
Till next time,
August 11, 2011
In a volatile market situation, business managers, company executives, and directors are encountering uncertainty with the economy’s short-term future. While the emotional, cognitive, and behavioural memory is still fresh from 2008, a round of decision making is required in a considerably hard-to-predict, difficult-to-control business environment.
Nevertheless, as John F. Kennedy once said: “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Even though Chinese philologist Victor H. Mair argues that the meaning of the second half is closer to crucial point than to opportunity, both suggest favourable circumstances!
Companies and organisations who decide to take advantage of this wake up call, are actively reviewing their operational expenses and business procedures as part of their commercial market survival. A recent CIO survey done by PA Consulting Group / Harvey Nash (May, 2011) showed the main demand from over 2,500 CIOs and IT leaders is to save costs, increase operational efficiencies, and carry steady and constant IT performances. So, whether in time of a financial strife or business as usual, expectations are to look for low cost, reliable, and efficient proven results.
Signing documents with Secured Signing provides the best electronic signature answer! The secured and legally binding digital signature online service stops the scanning, printing, binding, and handling of paper, it cuts operational and processing costs, saves time, expedites processes, and frees up budget, staff, and other resources for the core business.
And, in the words of Dr. Andrew Grove: “Not all problems have a technological answer, but when they do, that is the more lasting solution.”
Till next time,
August 4, 2011
Audit trail is defined as “A chronological record that reconstructs and examines the sequence of activities surrounding or leading to a specific operation, procedure, or event in a security relevant transaction from inception to final result” National Information Assurance Glossary, CNSS, 2010.
In today’s business environment, the Internet and the Web are rapidly using electronic implementation to replace the paper business processes for audit trail that for generations were commonly used. This substantial change to a virtual environment carries significant advantages and some challenges to auditors, executives, and/or business owners. The main challenge lies in the shift from verifying paper statements and journals that hold records of account balances and past transactions to controls of automated actions that are instantly and automatically processed.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) that was passed in 2002 by the US congress answers just that. In a response to various cases of accounting report scandals in early 2000, the SOX Compliance offers an example for a regulatory standard of audit proceedings in the electronic setting. It aims to protect investors and shareholders from fraudulent processes by validating the accuracy and integrity of transactions that are automatically handled.
The digital signature online service supports these advances by offering the following audit trail particulars and benefits:
- Appropriate control and high level of security – deploying user-based PKI digital signature technology ensures that no one could fake or alter any documents or signatures without leaving evidence – any changes made will make the document and signatures invalid. The solution therefore safeguards integrity and provides for non repudiation and authorisation of information.
- Verified signing process history – maintains a precise detailed audit trail that captures the order of every single act ivity and time frame. The time stamp that appears with the signature provides the exact second the document was signed.
- Prompt audit trail display – as soon as the online signing process is completed, an email with audit trail record is automatically sent to all parties involved.
- Audit evidence is legally binding – several laws have been passed internationally to facilitate commerce with the use of electronic signature. Related detailed information can be found in Digital Signature – The Legal Electronic Stamp
While the paper audit trail has been transformed to an electronic counterpart, the base requirements have not changed: the ability of a service or company to provide a sufficient and true proof to support the content of an audit report whether for audit purposes or in case of a dispute. These features demonstrate and confirm Secured Signing’s credible and essential signing process; the audit trail guarantees the latter and provides confidence and assurance for company directors, shareholders, service users, and auditors.
Till next time,
July 28, 2011
All businesses and organisations are processing and managing large amount of content in paper. This content is formulated, received, distributed, and stored in order to comply with different corporate objectives. In recent years, the environmental impact has become a key feature right alongside profitability, productivity, compliance, and efficiency.
A recent (2011) UN report highlights this transition by emphasising that: “Climate change provides a “wake-up call” warning that the prevailing economic model is not sustainable. Climate change solutions require a better balance among growth, resource use, and equity. This more balanced model — which many are referring to as the “green economy” — is quickly gaining traction.” Adapting for a Green Economy: Companies, Communities and Climate Change, A Caring for Climate report by United Nations Global Compact, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Oxfam, and World Resources Institute (WRI).
The Digital Signature online service takes an active and proud part in this important shift by replacing the principle of traditional paper-based signing and turning it into an electronic “fingerprint”. This coded identification is exclusive to the document and signer, and as such, protects against signature fabrication and information tampering.
Beside the security, compliance, costs reduction, and efficiency benefits, the service operates in a Cloud model environment that allows the secure signing of documents online. A signed electronic document is delivered to the person’s personal inbox; this replaces a number of hardware components installed in each company and reduces the energy costs for running and cooling the hardware in every single organisation.
- It takes 24 trees to make 1 tonne of paper
- UK uses 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard every year
- U.S. businesses use around 21 million tons of paper every year
While saving paper, trees, and storage space, businesses who are using the Secured Signing online service are also cutting back on power consumption and reducing air pollution and dependence on carbon-producing services that would typically be required to move a document urgently cross-city / state just to have it signed off by an authorised representative.
Latest findings from the 2011 UN report mentioned above revealed that “83 percent of 72 responding companies believe that climate change impacts pose a risk to their products or services. A slightly higher percentage of companies, 86 percent, think that responding to climate change risks or investing in adaptation solutions poses a business opportunity for their company.” Adapting for a Green Economy: Companies, Communities and Climate Change, A Caring for Climate report by United Nations Global Compact, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Oxfam, and World Resources Institute (WRI).
Whether you identify climate change as an opportunity or a threat to your business depends on many different factors. We clearly see and continually focus on implementing the opportunity. The important thing is that whatever you choose, you relate to — as will the world we leave for our children, grandchildren, and the generations beyond them.
Till next time,
July 21, 2011
Ever wondered if it’s legally binding to sign your business documents online?
A brief history first. Early Roman law recognised the amalgamation of seals and signatures as a principal for the authentication and legality of documents. Centuries later (mid-nineteenth century), the Morse Code and telegraph were recognised as the first legal ‘electronic’ signatures. The following century (1976) saw Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman lead the way to implement the legal equivalent to a written signature using cryptographic method; and then in 1996, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law published the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce with Guide to Enactment that influenced the development of electronic signature laws internationally.
Since that time, around the world, different laws have been passed that guarantee the legal authority and enforcement of electronic signatures: Uniform Electronic Transactions Acts (UETA), Electronic Signatures In Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), FDA 21CFR Part 11, EU Directive for Electronic Signatures, Electronic Transactions Acts in different countries, and many others.
The legal specification for a signature is fulfilled by means of an electronic signature if the signature:
- Appropriately identifies the signatory
- Appropriately indicates the signatory’s authorisation of the information to which the signature relates; and (Intent)
- Is as reliable as is appropriate given the occurrence
An electronic signature is adequately reliable if the means of creating the signature is connected to the person who signs the document, is under their control and no one else’s, and if the system can detect any changes made to the document and signature.
It is imperative to highlight that although the term used in all acts is ‘electronic signature’, the ‘digital signature’ is a sub group within electronic signatures that uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) — the only technology that ensures non-forgeable signatures. Secured Signing’s user-based PKI digital signature application provides the highest form of digital signature, and content that guarantees signer authenticity, data integrity, and non-repudiation of signed documents and transactions. If the document is altered, signatures immediately become invalid.
“We are confident that the systems used by Secured Signing ensure that the electronic signatures produced meet the legal requirements for a signature. In fact, the security and logging facility, in our view, provides better authenticity than many of the methods by which documents are now commonly signed and exchanged (e.g. e-mail and facsimile). So, unless there are specific laws dictating that a document can only be signed in a particular way (as far as we are aware, the only common law which does this relates to wills), any form of contract can be signed using the Secured Signing System.” Rick Shera / Angela Beros , Partner / Solicitor, LOWNDES JORDAN, Barristers & Solicitors
Till next time,