There are a lot of different types of electronic signatures out there, and it can be confusing to figure out the differences between them. Today we're going to tackle the differences between digitized signatures and digital signatures.
Though the two names sound very similar, you should know that there's a big difference between a digital signature and a digitized signature.
Digitized Signature: A Risky Way to Do Business
First, we’ll address the definition of a “digitized signature.” Any image of a handwritten signature that’s used to sign documents digitally is considered a “digitized signature.”
Here are a couple common examples:
- A scanned image of a handwritten signature
- A signature on a signature pad
These types of signatures might look official, but they don’t offer security against tampering, a critical element of any online signature.
Using a scanned image of your signature is especially risky because the image of your signature can easily be copied and pasted onto other documents. If a fraudster got his hands on that image, they could sign your name to all sorts of documents, getting you into a world of trouble.
You should also be careful not to store a scanned image of your signature on any computer. If your computer was hacked or stolen, your signature could be compromised.
One law firm did a good job summarizing these risks when they wrote, “The obvious risk is that typed signatures, email footers and scanned signatures can so easily be copied or forged that it cannot be long before a serious financial dispute arises in which one party alleges that the ‘signature’ was not applied by them, or that the document was altered after being signed… There is massive scope for dispute even if the forgery is proven, as both parties are likely to have acted in reliance on the forged agreement.”
Digital Signatures: Security and Convenience Combined
At face value, digital signatures can look a lot like digitized signatures. They can be drawn using a finger on an iPad or created with the click of a mouse. Just because they’re easy to use doesn’t mean they are the same
The difference happens behind the scenes. The instant you sign a document with a digital signature, the document is locked against tampering.
If you want to check to see if a digitally signed document has been altered, all you have to do is open the document using free PDF viewer software. If someone has changed any part of the document (even something as simple as deleting a space or capitalizing a word) there’s proof tampering took place.
The signature can also provide a lot of information about the signature in a record called the “audit log.” Audit logs can record the date and time of the following actions:
- Transaction creation
- Emails and notifications sent to any signer
- Signers consent to use e-signatures
- User authentication
- Documents viewed by each signer
- Signature creation (by each signer)
- Party agreement to/acknowledgment of document
- Transaction completion
- Document downloads after signing
- Cancellations and opt outs
- Changed party information
Many industries with high-value transactions require that digital signatures be used instead of other types of online signatures. They offer a superior level of security compared to digitized signatures, and they are just as convenient.