If your office is like most offices, business documents and messages are probably passed through many different departments. These documents usually approval from a senior executive or manager (sometimes both).
To decrease confusion and lower costs, many companies are moving away from paper documents to adopt electronic versions instead. To safely send and sign for electronic documents, your business must use a special type of technology called a digital signature.
What is a Digital Signature?
A digital signature is an electronic key that is used to confirm the identity of a signer of a document. With a digital signature, the process of signing tangible paper documents is transformed into a digital document using an electronic fingerprint. The fingerprint acts as a coded message that binds the signer's identity to the document.
It can also be used to ensure the document hasn't been tampered with or altered after it was signed—any changes made to the document after signing make it invalid.
This technology protects the sender against forgery and the receiving party from obtaining information that has been tampered with. Digital signatures can also be easily transported and time-stamped.
Importance of Using Digital Signatures
A digital signature ensures a document or message has been signed by the correct sender. This ensures the document has been signed by the right person and was sent with its original content, and it prevents the sender from claiming the document is a fake at any point after signing.
Digital signing also eliminates the need for paper documents. The reduced paper usage results in a healthier environment with less trash in landfills while also lowering spending. Documents signed with this method are legally binding under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
Use in the Business World
Signing documents digitally can help your business sustain greater accountability, data integrity and authenticity. Often, official documents require formal approvals, and the number of documents that require a signature from specific departments within an organization tends to be higher than many realize.
By using digital signatures, you can significantly shorten the time it takes to complete these processes. In addition, you can save money on office supplies like paper and ink and labor methods used to transport paper documents. Digital signatures are nearly impossible to forge and so digitally signed transactions within your organization will not be compromised by malicious activity.
Cyber Security in Business
Utilizing digital signatures is a necessary part of keeping your business safe from fraudsters and cyber thieves. Signature forgery is one less threat to be concerned about with this process, as forging can completely disrupt or even ruin an organization. For instance, from 1992 to 1995, derivatives broker Nick Leeson forged trading documents that led to the total collapse of Barings Bank, the oldest investment bank in the United Kingdom.
Hacking is another threat to many businesses. Hackers intercept company communications in order to transmit or spread false information within or about the organization. They also use these communications to steal information about personnel or company developments. In addition to implementing digital signatures in the workplace, organizations should follow a number of practices to maintain the safety and integrity of the business and its employees.
Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer and tech guru. She can be found typing away on her laptop in Cleveland, OH. Feel free to get a hold of Stacey via email.