Sign Your Document with Signature Technology you can Trust

The digital age has transformed the way we do business, with an unprecedented level of interconnectedness over vast distances. Yet this also brings forth new problems, one of the largest being trust.

When so many aspects of work are now digital, with virtually no material basis, how do you spot a forged signature or a slightly modified document? How do you say with the utmost confidence that all your signed documents can be trusted, when all that would be needed to manipulate them would be a half decent PDF editor with few mouse clicks? The answer is electronic / digital signatures.

So What is an Electronic Signature?

The definition of an electronic signature is fairly broad, being any electronic process that conveys legal acceptance of an agreement, and requires several things to meet this definition;

  • Authentication of identity
  • The signature is linked to the signatory,
  • Detecting Changes to the Document and to the Signatures (Data Integrity)
  • An audit record of security throughout the signing process.

However, these requirements are partly met with varying levels of sophistication, with some electronic signatures being as simple as a picture of your signature inserted in the document. This makes many electronic signatures ridiculously easy to copy to another document, and even manipulate the signature itself.

This becomes a serious problem, since when you sign any document with an electronic signature you need to be sure you can trust it for every copy of the document otherwise your agreements don’t mean very much, especially in the age of easy access PDF editors and photoshop.

Fortunately, this is where Digital Signatures come in:

Digital signatures are a type of electronic signature; however, they follow specific methods to meet those criteria;

  • PKI technology for Signer’s Identity
  • Signature is uniquely linked to the signatory, and can’t be recreated or duplicated
  • Detecting Changes to the Document and to the Signatures (Data Integrity)
  • Audit Log with all actions in the signing process

These technologies also allow you to check your signatures validity using any type of a PDF reader.

This technology is pretty far from new, however it was previously only available to high-level enterprise or government organizations, but with the rise of cloud-based digital signatures, pretty much anyone can sign up.

While I won’t get into the specifics of how digital signatures work, an easy way to explain the difference would be a comparison between a typical electronic signature that anyone can manipulate, and an encrypted Digital Signature.

The typical electronic signature will be inserted into the document as an image and that’s essentially it, it will remain completely unresponsive to any changes made to the document, and if it does have a verification function, you will be required to do so through the original signature provider.

Whereas the encrypted digital signature will act as a tamper seal for the document, invalidating immediately if any change is made to the signature, or any other part of the document. This also means digital signatures can be validated by any PDF reader as soon as the document is opened, meaning the first thing you will know when opening a document is if the signatures are valid.

Secure Digital Signature

Of course, no electronic signature (including digital) will outright prevent editing a signed document, but where digital signatures stand out is their ability to respond to change, and invalidate the signature if any part of it or the document is edited. In the same way that if someone has carefully broken into your house you may not notice anything missing, unless your burglar alarm is going off.

And with wet signature falsification and forgery on the rise, it seems only natural that digital signatures will eventually become vital as a document security tool. And why it’s so important to make sure you choose one that’s up for the challenge. This clear difference is why digital signatures are consistently the most compliant form of electronic signing available today, as they not only show acknowledgment of agreement, but also allow you to trust your documents, by virtually eliminating the risk of fraud due to document editing.

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