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The Difference Between Digital Signatures and Electronic Signatures

  
  
  

If you’re starting to learn about online signatures it’s easy to get confused by all of your options. A lot of people use the terms “digital signature” and “electronic signature” interchangeably. True digital signatures are a type of electronic signature, but they aren’t the same thing. Here’s our quick guide to the difference.

digital signature versus electronic signature

Digital Signatures

A digital signature is a type of electronic signature that offers more security than a traditional electronic signature. When you sign a document with a digital signature, the signature links a “fingerprint” of the document to your identity. Then that information is permanently embedded into the document, and the document will show if someone comes in and tries to tamper with it after you’ve signed it.

Because that information is embedded in the document, you don’t need to check back with the vendor if you want to verify that the signature is still secure. That’s a big benefit if you don’t want to be tied down to one vendor over the life of your documents.

On top of that, more countries around the world accept digital signatures because they comply with international standards for security.

Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures are popular because they are easy to use. Customers can sign documents online with a click of the mouse or by using their fingers to trace a handwritten signature onto a document.

The downfall of electronic signatures is that they aren’t regulated like digital signatures are. It’s up to each vendor to make their own standards, and you have to take their word for it when they say their signatures are secure.

In fact, electronic signatures don’t have the secure coding that digital signatures have. That technology is what links the signature to the signer’s identity and to the time the document was signed. Essentially, electronic signatures are an image placed on the document, but they can’t show if someone tampers with the document after it is signed. 

Another drawback of electronic signatures is the fact that many vendors require you to check back with them if you’d like to know if your document has been tampered with. That means if you decide to change to a different vendor, you could lose those signatures that are stored on the vendor’s server.

Are you still a little confused? That’s ok, we’ve got a white paper that goes into more detail and can help you figure out which product is right for your business. You can download your own digital copy of our white paper for free, and if you still have any more questions, feel free to contact us.

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