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Lokjithkirthik Viswanathan

E-Signature Security Checklist: Best Practices for Safeguarding Documents8 min read

E-Signature Security

In an increasingly digital world, the security of documents is crucial. If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with the volume of paperwork businesses handle to conduct smooth operations. E-signature software has found its place among enterprise software solutions that streamline processes, and they simplify workflows that process large volumes of documents, including contracts, that need to be reviewed and signed by stakeholders across the hierarchy.

Documents, whether financial records, medical records, or any legal agreement, contain sensitive information that must be protected from unauthorized access and tampering. When organization.

Therefore, ensuring your enterprise takes all the necessary measures to safeguard workflows must be a priority. Certinal brings you the most comprehensive checklist of best practices to protect documents from data breaches and unwarranted tampering.

E-Signature Security Checklist

Related Read: Security: The Quintessential Element of Digital Signature Solutions

Significance of Document Security and Common Threat

The hard truth is unless you have taken measures to ensure security, you risk exposure to security vulnerabilities and exploits. Robust security measures reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your digital documents.

Ensuring document integrity is equally important. Unlike physical documents, digital alterations can be challenging to detect. Secure e-signature practices preserve document authenticity and prevent unauthorized changes.

Before exploring best practices, understanding common threats is crucial for safeguarding digital transactions. Awareness of these risks helps protect your e-signatures from potential breaches.

Phishing attacks are a significant threat. The number of phishing emails has increased since the launch of ChatGPT by 1,265%. Criminal entities are leveraging generative AI to execute sophisticated cyber-attacks. Hackers send deceptive emails or messages posing as legitimate e-signature requests, tricking individuals into clicking on malicious links or sharing sensitive information.

Weak passwords and the absence of multifactor authentication pose another threat. Strengthening password policies and enabling multifactor authentication reduces the risk of unauthorized account access.

Any oversight regarding data storage, access controls, and encryption may also affect the security of your workflow. Therefore, a 360-degree approach to security is essential.

Data breaches aren’t cheap; enterprises pay enormous amounts for their actions. Here’s something interesting from the IBM Report on the Cost of Data Breach – the global average cost of data breaches is $4.45 million in 2023, an all-time high. Even more interesting is that half of the affected enterprises are unwilling to increase security spending.

In the upcoming sections, I’ll list some of the best practices related to authentication, data privacy, compliance, auditing, educating employees, and e-signatures for secure document signatures.

Best Practices: Documents Security

Authentication of Document Users

All document transactions and exchanges in a digital workflow happen remotely, and verifying the identity of parties can be a challenge. In an unsecured channel without adequate authentication measures, I can assume another person’s identity and unsuspectingly manipulate documents. Here are a few measures you could take to avoid this:

1. Multifactor Authentication (MFA):

When it comes to security, you can never be too sure. That’s where MFA comes in. It requires entities who want to access a document to clear multiple security checks before granting access. These are familiar sights in banking transactions. Apart from submitting your login password, you may be required to submit a secure PIN or a One-time Password (OTP).

2. Biometrics:

Biometrics is now more accessible than ever due to technological advancements. Common ways to biometrically authenticate the identity are fingerprints and facial recognition. 3. Single Sign-on (SSO): Single Sign-on ensures a hassle-free user experience without compromising passwords. A user is required to log in only once to access multiple platforms. This authentication method reduces the number of times a user must type the password and minimizes exposure.

3. Regular Password Update:

Updating your passwords regularly to improve security is a no-brainer. Set up a password expiration policy in your organization that requires employees to update their passwords. To make things more secure, some password policies do not allow the reuse of old passwords or the use of new passwords resembling the old passwords.

Data Privacy

1. Encryption:

To protect documents and other personal information from unauthorized access and tampering, ensure your document management and signature solution employs robust encryption protocols. Typically, encryption uses cryptography to safeguard data. If you want to know more about cryptography and encryptions of digital signatures, click here.

2. Minimization:

You minimize the risk of exposure during data breaches by reducing the amount of data you collect in different forms, including documents. Ensure your organization collects data necessary for its operation; anything beyond the scope of business increases risk.

3. Storage:

Storage is a crucial aspect of document management. It ensures the data is readily accessible when you most need it, but what if its security measures are outdated or even non-existent? Would you trust a workflow dependent on such insecure storage? Well, you shouldn’t. Make sure your document storage complies with security standards and regulations.

4. Retention:

Define how long personal information will be stored in your data privacy policy. Regularly review and discard outdated data. The retention clause within your enterprise’s data privacy policy sets up a routine data cleaning exercise.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

1. Stay Informed:

There’s no better way to stay ahead than staying informed. Always stay vigilant about the latest legal and regulatory updates affecting your business. This is particularly true for enterprises operating on a global scale. Legal literature, news, blogs and industry experts are some sources to keep informed.

2. Document Integrity:

Several laws and regulations require enterprises to use tamper-evident technology, such as digital signatures, that allows you to audit and monitor documents in a workflow to ensure integrity.

3. Data Collection and Protection:

Implement data protection practices accepted per regulations such as GDPR. Data protection also involves getting informed consent for data collection and use. Data collected without consent may put your organization at risk of a lawsuit.

Monitoring and Auditing

1. Real-time event tracking:

Track all the events around a document transaction in real-time. This allows you to detect any suspicious activity, including login attempts, document access and any changes made to the document.

2. Regular Audit Reporting:

Generate comprehensive audit reports on the events of the workflow transaction, which should include metadata as well. This helps you trace the source breach without having to suspend operations. Workflow exchanges must be regularly audited and reported to ensure security.

Educating Employees

1. Awareness of Phishing:

You’ll be one step ahead of your peers if you recognize a possible phishing attack before the damage is done. Employees must be trained to recognize and report any suspected phishing attack. An event as simple as clicking a click can grant document access to unauthorized individuals.

2. Data Handling:

Handling sensitive documents during document transactions can be tricky, but when your employees are trained in the best practices and internal policies, they will be equipped to secure sensitive information.

3. Adherence to Security Policy:

As a first step towards adherence, the data privacy policy must be easy for your employees to understand and adhere to in the long run. The process must be well-defined, leaving no room for doubts and deviations.

Regularly share resources related to security best practices, use of new technology such as digital signatures and internal policy updates with your employees to keep them informed.

Switching to Digital Signatures

The most efficient way of signing documents is by using digital signatures. But before you start researching and exploring the market for digital signatures to make the switch, here are some factors you must take into consideration:

1. Compliance:

Enterprises deploy most of their resources towards ensuring compliance. Any lapse to ensure compliance opens them to the risk of being sued. An e-signature solution such as Certinal eSign ensures 100% security compliance with industry-standard encryption modules and algorithms as stated in frameworks such as NIST FIPS 140-2 and FIPS 186-4 to protect your documents during transmission and storage.

2. Integration:

To ensure a seamless transition to the digital signing process, make sure your choice of E-Signature effortlessly integrates with your existing system without compromising security.

3. Pricing:

You don’t have to break the bank to ensure top-tier security for your documents. Go for an E-signature vendor that offers advanced security features at differential pricing for internal and external use to save your enterprise money.

4. Vendor Reputation and Support:

Would you buy a car from a dealership with a bad reputation and even worse after-sales support? Definitely not. When choosing your E-Signature, use third-party vendor assessments such as IDC MarketScape and analyst reports and guides such as Gartner as your guiding star.

Related Read: Your Definitive Guide to Sourcing NextGen eSignature

Conclusion

As security continues to be a priority for enterprises dealing in large volumes of documents, e-signature adoption continues to rise. You can minimize risk by inculcating these best practices into your enterprise policies and processes.

From carefully selecting a reliable e-signature platform to implementing strong authentication measures and educating your employees, each step plays a significant role in safeguarding your documents and signatures.

By placing a high value on e-signature security, you can protect your sensitive information, preserve the authenticity of your digital documents, and comply with legal and industry standards.

Schedule a demonstration now to experience firsthand the secure e-signature solution offered by Certinal. Book a Demo.

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Author
Senior Executive - Marketing
Lokjith is a marketing content writer, and he writes about eSignature technology to raise awareness and help enterprises make informed decisions. Before discovering the SaaS industry, he organized Offline Marketing campaigns campaigns. He has a master’s degree from the Institute of Management Technology, specializing in Marketing.
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