Sometimes we feel that we are at par with the constantly evolving technology until something new pops up and we are left confused. In this digital era, the idea of automation is kicking out the art of performing activities manually. For instance, since the inception of digital signatures, many people have used this term interchangeably with electronic signatures as they believe the two refer to the same thing. For decades, companies have implemented several electronic communication solutions to certify digital entities and protect their sensitive information and systems from cyber-attacks.
Digital and electronic signatures have caused part of this business transformation which is often faced with concerns over reliability, recognition, validation, authentication and trust of digital transactions. The business world is evolving fast, and there is no room for any company to fall behind. We are all witnesses to how technological advancements make an enormous difference in the world. For a long time, personal signatures have been the way of signing essential documents.
Signatures were not significant until the passing of the State of Frauds acts in 1677 in the English parliament. Printing and signing documents have become a thing of the past as everything turns digital in the business world. Initially, many people perceived electronic signatures as a luxury business expense, but now it is a necessity. An esignature is a unique form of electronic signature that has not been embraced yet, considering that many people are ignorant of the difference.
Digital signature defined
A digital signature is a typical implementation of electronic signatures using cryptographic algorithms. It refers to the decoded/coded technology on which several electronic signatures rely to certify their authenticity. The digital signature can be described as several characters that you add to the body of a message or a document for security and validity. Some people may define a digital signature as some fingerprint embedded in a document. The signer gets a digital certificate from the certification authority to verify the document’s authenticity. The signer signs the digital certificate in a unique fingerprint, a component that makes it more practical than a wet signature, making it easy to authenticate their origin. They identify the individual issuing the document and confirm that the message has not been modified from the original one.
A digital signature ensures the originality and authenticity of the document or piece of information. This type of signature is a more straightforward way of encoding information with security methods like encryption to prevent tampering. The signature prevents anyone other than authorized personnel from accessing the data.
Features of an electronic signature
According to the State of Frauds act, an electronic signature, also known as an esignature, is any sound, proof, or electronic symbol associated with a contract or record that the concerned individual intends to sign, making the intention the first feature of the signature. Another part that identifies an electronic signature can be a simple mouse click or an oral authorization. Just like a digital signature, an electronic signature verifies a document’s authenticity and originality. After the signing, the concerned parties should be able to identify themselves. However, proving an electronic record can be tricky, considering that there is no digital certificate, ensuring the security of the process. Another unique feature of this type of signature is that it can execute an agreement that becomes legally binding. Additionally, many people use electronic signatures because of their lack of complexity.
Traditional wet signatures are fast becoming outdated in this digital era, as automation is slowly becoming the new way of life. New ways of signing are being introduced in the market, guaranteeing more security and reliability. Digital and electronic signatures focus on ensuring information security but have different features that distinguish them from one another. While their purposes overlap, people are more conversant and trust digital signatures than electronic signatures. When comparing the two, it is easy to conclude that digital signatures guarantee more security than electronic signatures. This is because they use coded features to link the information with the signer securely. Electronic and traditional wet signatures are still legally binding even though they don’t provide the same level of security associated with digital signatures.