What is a Digital Signature?
If there’s any problem with digitization, it’s that security is always at risk. And it becomes even more critical when one of the main tasks of your job is exchanging digital documents.
Determining the credibility and authenticity of online documents becomes extremely important (and tricky!) when they're shared from a new/less-trustworthy source. That’s when digital signatures can help.
But what is a digital signature, and how does it work?
In this post, you’ll learn everything about digital signatures, including their importance and types, so you can use them to protect your online documents.
What is a digital signature?
A digital signature is a cryptographic technique used to verify the authenticity and integrity of a digital document or message. The main purpose of a digital signature is to verify the credibility of documents.
So, when a document contains a digital signature, it means that the person who signed it is the person who they claim to be and that the document hasn't been altered in transit.
There are many benefits of using an esignature instead of traditional signature methods.
How do digital signatures work?
A digital signature works by using a pair of cryptographic keys—a private key and a public key.
The private key can only be accessed by (and is known to) the person signing the document, while the public key is available to anyone who wants to verify the signature.
So, signing a document using the private key creates a unique digital fingerprint of the document, known as a digital certificate. This unique certificate is then attached to the document, confirming its authenticity and the signer's identity.
Four types of electronic signatures
Now that you know what a digital signature and how it works, here are the various types you should know about.
Electronic signatures or e-signatures (ES)
Electronic signatures, commonly called ES, are a broad category that includes all electronic methods used to indicate agreement or consent. It can be as simple as typing your name into a document or using a dedicated electronic signature provider like Blueink.
Simple electronic signatures (SES)
Simple electronic signatures are most commonly used for everyday transactions where additional signer's identity verification is not required, such as small business transactions.
SES offers convenience and efficiency, making it suitable for many business and personal needs. Let’s take an example of a freelancer receiving a contract for a new project. With a simple electronic signature, they can quickly sign the document online without going through the hassle of printing, signing, and scanning.
Advanced electronic signatures (AES)
Advanced electronic signatures are extra secure and perfect if you want identity verification as a necessary step. High-security contracts like legal documents, financial transactions, and million-dollar projects are signed using AES.
The signer must provide additional information or documents, such as a copy of their government-issued ID, to create an advanced electronic signature. AES signatures are uniquely linked to the signer—and, therefore, perfect for identifying the signer.
Qualified electronic signatures (QES)
Qualified electronic signatures are the gold standard in electronic signatures, providing top-level security and authenticity to any electronic documents signed.
They require face-to-face identity verification, making them legally equivalent to handwritten signatures in the European Union under the eIDAS regulation.
What Is a Digital Signature Used For?
The primary purpose of using a digital signature is to make sure electronic documents and transactions are authentic and credible. Here are some key reasons digital signatures help achieve that:
Many times, spammers try to duplicate documents or alter their authenticity. Digital signatures use powerful encryption and authentication technologies to make sure unauthorized parties can’t tamper with or forge signed documents.
Save time and resources
With digital signatures, there's no need for physical paperwork, mailing, or manual processes. This saves time and money for businesses and individuals who work with documents frequently.
Improved workflow efficiency
Digital signatures streamline document workflows and reduce delays associated with manual processes such as document verification. This helps in faster decision-making and increases the efficiency of the system.
Compliance and regulations
Compliance with regulations is crucial to function correctly without any blockages.
However, different regions have different standards and requirements for electronic signatures. For example, in the European Union, the eIDAS regulation defines the technical standards for electronic signatures, including AES and QES.
In India, there are ITA (Indian Technology Act, 2000,) ICA (Indian Contract Act, 1972,) and ESEATPR (Electronic Signature or Electronic Authentication Technique and Procedure Rules, 2015.)
Although compliance with these regulations is not required legally, it’s a great way to establish trust in your digital transactions.
Easy to store and access
Digital signatures simplify document storage and retrieval. Storing traditional signatures requires physical filing systems, and finding them can be time-consuming in an urgent need.
Digital documents can be securely stored in the cloud or digital archives. This saves physical space, minimizes clutter, and makes it easy to access and organize signed documents whenever needed.
Plus, electronic signatures help cut paper costs, which is a much more eco-friendly option. At Blueink, we’re all in on improving business processes in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
Secure your digital documents within clicks
You won’t use traditional methods of signing and storing documents when digital signatures provide many benefits.
And honestly, when more than half of your documents are transferred digitally, there’s no reason you should stick with age-old methods.
Start signing your documents with Blueink—a cost-efficient, highly secure, and signer-friendly platform. Schedule a demo today >>