Are electronic signatures safe? Get insights into the security of electronic signatures and how they offer a secure and trusted method for authorizing digital documents. A secure electronic signature puts all your security concerns to rest. They are more secure than wet signatures. While wet signatures are subject to forgery and tampering, the many layers of security associated with electronic signatures make them difficult to be tampered with. They also come with court-admissible audit reports which means that you can carry out transactions without worrying about security.
Detailed audit reports that serve as electronic records
The audit trail captures information like the history of interactions with the document, signer details, date and time of signer activity, etc. Sometimes they also record the location where the document was signed. In case of disputes, all the parties involved in the transaction can access the audit trail and resolve the dispute. This document serves as an electronic record and is admissible in the court of law.
Certificates of completion
Certificates of completion are detailed documents that include information like the associated IP address, email address, date, timestamp, and name of the signer. They also record information such as the signer’s consent to electronically sign the document. This functionality ensures that all of your electronic signatures are protected by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and will hold up in court.
Public key infrastructure ensures greater security of digital signatures. PKI requires the provider to use a mathematical algorithm to generate two keys- a public key and a private key.
The relation between the public and private keys is such that only the public key can be used to encrypt messages and only the corresponding private key can be used to decrypt them. Even after knowing the public key, a user cannot deduce the private key. The resulting encrypted data is the digital signature. PKI also records the time the document was signed. Any edits made to the document after signing will invalidate the signature.
Authentication methods: Verifying the signer identity
E-signature tools offer multiple authentication methods to verify a signer’s identity. These include:
- Email link click authentication
- Phone OTP
- Signing Password
- Account-based authentication (SSO and non-SSO)
- Government ID and supporting documents
There are two additional levels of e-signatures that comply with the EU’s eIDAS requirements for e-signature security:
What is an Advanced Electronic Signatures?
An advanced electronic signature is more secure than a basic e-signature because it ties authentication to the signature and thus the document. This provides additional evidence which can be used to verify the authenticity of the signature. It cannot be forged and the court requires less evidence to prove the authenticity of the signature.
Advanced Electronic Signatures must fulfill the requirements of a Simple Electronic Signature. Additionally, it should be:
- Uniquely linked to the person using the signature
- Able to spot the signer
- Created in a way that the signer is confident it’s under their sole control
- Linked to the document, so any changes made afterward are identifiable
Most businesses and banks choose Advanced Electronic Signatures as their standard e-signature for use. Built-in authentication assurance can also increase security without affecting the customer experience.
What is a Qualified Electronic Signatures?
Qualified Electronic Signatures are based on the eIDAS Regulation, but like many other laws worldwide, they need a certificate issued by an accredited organization. QES requires a private digital certificate additionally to all or any other standard requirements. The digital certificate is like an electronic identity credential issued to the signer and to be kept under their control. It is secure, personal, and unique.
A Qualified Electronic Signature must fulfill the requirements of the Basic Electronic Signatures and Advanced Electronic Signatures. Other than that they are also expected to fulfill some more requirements. They should be:
- Created by employing a professional electronic creation or signature creation
- Supported by qualified certificate (issued by knowledgeable trust service provider; an example would be items in Belgium)
- Like an advanced e-signature, it is recognized as sort of a handwritten signature. In the case of a dispute, this type of signature does not require any additional evidence by the court under Article 25 of eIDAS.
Usually, the organization initiating the signing process is required to authenticate the signer. But Qualified E-signatures reverse this burden of proof and the signer must provide the digital certificate before they can proceed to sign the document.
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