Simple e-signatures vs. true digital signatures: which is right for your business?

Posted by SIGNiX Staff

It’s useful to divide the entire spectrum of e-signatures into two camps: simple e-signatures with lightweight legal durability, and powerful digital signatures which provide security, data privacy, and superior legal evidence.

Which of these is the most secure and reliable signature solution for your business?

Read on to find out.

It's 2019, and electronic signatures are everywhere. Whetherswiping a credit card at the local grocery store or opening an investment account online, most people frequently use a form of e-signature.

However, the broad term ‘e-signature’ quickly leads to confusion when choosing an e-signature solution for your business.. For businesses and organizations with data privacy and regulatory concerns, this confusion can result in costly remediation.

Like traditional ink signatures, e-signatures legally bind parties to the terms of an agreement. Most commercially available e-signature solutions are legally binding; however, there are substantial differences with regard to an e-signature's security and legal resilience.

Consider this hypothetical: you e-sign a contract to provide goods or services to a customer. You perform as agreed, but the customer says, "I didn’t agree to these terms. You changed the contract after I signed it!" and refuses to pay.

You’ve already spent time and money coming to agreement and performing the service, and now face the additional burden of filing suit to enforce payment. The type of e-signature you used to sign the contract  just became very, very important.

It’s useful to divide the entire spectrum of e-signatures into two camps: simple e-signatures with lightweight legal durability, and powerful digital signatures which provide security, data privacy, and superior legal evidence.

Which of these is the most secure and reliable signature solution for your business?

Read on to find out.

Digital Signatures: The Gold Standard

A digital signature is the most secure type of 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.

"Digital signatures offer tamper evidence, independent verification and a strict adherence to standards, meaning our customers are not left having to rely on us being around simply to prove that signatures took place," said John Harris, Senior Vice President of Product Management at SIGNiX. "And we back that up with a highly detailed audit trail that goes far above and beyond what a majority of the market feels is sufficient."

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: Proprietary Risks

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.

At SIGNiX, we combine all of the security of digital signatures with the convenience of electronic signatures using our patented cloud-based technology. To learn more about how we were able to do this, check out the video below.

Still confused? Don't worry: here's a white paper more detail. Download it and take your time. If you have more questions, we're happy to answer them.

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