The complete guide to e-signature verification: Tips and best practices
Tips and best practices
Unless you’re Taylor Swift signing autographs around every corner, pens aren’t likely a sought-after tool in your day-to-day life. Instead, most of us use modern devices like smartphones to take notes, exchange contact information, or even sign documents.
However, with the convenience of e-signatures comes the need to ensure the authenticity and integrity of signed documents.
This is where eSignature verification comes in. And for those interested in ensuring their documents are safe and compliant, it’s not something to be overlooked when selecting an electronic signature provider.
Its importance spans legal, security, and operational considerations and understanding this is essential for organizations and individuals embracing digital workflows.
eSignature verification is like a gatekeeper that ensures the integrity of digitally signed documents. It verifies that the signature has not been tampered with or altered after the fact.
Electronic signature providers often implement strong authentication methods to ensure that only authorized individuals can access and sign documents. This could include password protection, multi-factor authentication, or biometric verification.
They can also encrypt the entire document and the signature itself to protect against unauthorized access and tampering. Encryption ensures that even if someone gains access to the document, they cannot alter its content without the proper decryption keys.
Efforts to protect a document’s integrity don’t end there.
Many platforms maintain detailed audit trails that record all actions taken during the signing process. This includes information such as who accessed the document, when it was accessed, and when the signature was applied.
Once the deal is sealed, work is still being undertaken behind the scenes to ensure documents remain protected. Many electronic signature providers store signed documents in secure, tamper-evident environments. This might involve secure cloud storage, on-premises servers with proper access controls, or a combination of both.
The issue of storage should not be overlooked, as one study found that nearly half of surveyed organizations lacked a defined way to store contracts after the deal has been finalized. This can be highly problematic in cases where documents need to be recovered.
Users can do their part to protect documents by conducting regular security audits to identify and address potential vulnerabilities in their electronic signature system. This helps in staying proactive against emerging security threats.
As well, they can educate themselves on security best practices, such as the importance of protecting login credentials, recognizing phishing attempts, and following secure document handling procedures.
Verifying the identity of the signer is fundamental. Without proper authentication, there is a risk of someone else posing as the intended signer and applying their penmanship to a document.
Signature authentication is a vital component of overall system security. It adds an extra layer of protection to the electronic signature process, reducing the risk of unauthorized access, forgery, and other security threats.
Electronic signature verification methods, such as knowledge-based verification, two-factor authentication (2FA), biometric verification, and digital certificate-based verification, help confirm that the person signing the document is who they claim to be.
The latter point is worth emphasizing, given that in the U.S., digital fraud attempts increased 122% from 2019 through 2022. With the increasing prevalence of digital transactions, the risk of fraud also rises. eSignature verification acts as a robust defense against unauthorized access and fraudulent activities, protecting sensitive information and preventing malicious actors from forging signatures.
Authentication helps prevent replay attacks, where an attacker intercepts and maliciously reuses a previously captured signature. With proper authentication, each signature event is unique and tied to the authorized users.
Various countries have enacted electronic signature laws to regulate and provide legal validity to eSignatures. Compliance with these standards, such as the U.S. ESIGN Act and the European eIDAS Regulation, is necessary for regulatory adherence, risk mitigation, and maintaining the integrity of the electronic signature process.
It’s worth noting that different regions and industries could have specific regulations and standards governing electronic signatures. If you operate across borders, compliance with international standards, such as the eIDAS Regulation in the European Union or the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act in the United States, is crucial for global acceptance of electronic signatures.
As well, certain industries may have specific electronic signature requirements based on the nature of their business. Compliance with industry-specific regulations is essential for organizations operating in sectors such as healthcare, finance, or government.
Regulations often include requirements for maintaining the integrity of electronically signed documents. Compliance measures help ensure that the signed documents remain tamper-proof and unchanged after the signature is applied.
As well, many regulations mandate the creation and retention of audit trails and records for electronic signature transactions. Compliance ensures that you have a detailed record of the signing process in the event of legal or regulatory issues.
While following the rules helps mitigate legal and financial legal risks associated with electronic signatures, being a rule breaker can have the opposite effect. Non-compliance can lead to disputes, legal challenges, and financial penalties, all of which can be avoided by following established regulations.
For organizations, working with a platform that already has its thumb on compliance matters can be a way to take the load off. This is especially vital in an environment where organizations that lack regulatory compliance showed an average cost of more than $5 million.
When it comes to legal standards, two words are worth remembering: consent and intent.
First, ensure that parties involved in the electronic signature process provide clear and unequivocal consent to conduct transactions electronically. Demonstrating the intent to sign electronically is essential for legal validity.
It also comes back to secure signature authorization as many regulations require the use of methods that are reliable and appropriate for the level of risk associated with the transaction. Adhering to these regulations is essential for the legal acceptance of electronically signed documents.
To further complicate things, users should consider the cross-border implications of electronic signature laws, especially if a transaction involves parties in different countries. Ensure that your processes align with the regulations of all relevant jurisdictions.
And be sure to comply with data protection and privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Safeguard personal information and clearly communicate how data will be handled during the electronic signature process.
Always seek legal advice to ensure that your electronic signature processes align with the specific legal requirements in your jurisdiction and industry. Legal compliance is dynamic, and staying informed about changes in relevant laws is essential for maintaining a legally sound electronic signature system.
All that effort could pay off. After all, in legal proceedings, authenticated electronic signatures are more likely to be considered admissible as evidence.
Enhanced trust and credibility
Electronic signatures are useless if their legitimacy can’t be proven. Conversely, the ability to verify them enhances the overall trustworthiness of digital transactions.
The importance of ensuring accuracy goes beyond trust and extends into a document or deal’s credibility. Proper signature authentication builds both trust and credibility in the process by serving as a verified way to establish a document’s legitimacy.
When the right procedures are in place, parties involved in a transaction can be confident that the signatures are the real deal and that the document has not been compromised, fostering trust and credibility in electronic processes.
Authentication contributes to maintaining the integrity of the signed document. By confirming the identity of the signer, it becomes less likely that the document has been tampered with or altered after the signature was applied.
Final tip: choose wisely
Now that the importance of verification has been laid out, it’s up to users to ensure the platform they choose upholds the security, legality and efficiency of digital transactions.
One option is BlueInk, where compliance is key.
At Blueink, security and data protection is the foundation of building and running its products. The platform provides end-to-end encrypted transactions, encrypted data storage at rest, practicing least privileged and robust access and authentication controls, and maintaining high security and confidentiality of the information you work with. Additionally, it implements various internal controls and procedures to meet compliance standards.
These controls and procedures include robust employee screening, background checks, ongoing training, policy-driven internal governance, physical access controls, vendor management, and more.
As organizations and individuals increasingly rely on electronic signatures, implementing such robust verification methods has become paramount for ensuring the trustworthiness and reliability of digitally signed documents.