Electronic signatures, email signatures, and digital signatures. What do these signatures have in common? They all are used in electronic information exchange and digital communication. These terms should not be confused. They differ in terms of their legal status, definitions, the technology used, and complexity. It is a big mistake to assume they are identical.
This article will discuss these types of signatures. It will also explain where and how they are used.
What's an email signature?
Let's start with the most basic, your email signature. It's basically the most important information at the bottom of your email. You can have both a private and business email signature.
Private signatures can be informal and are often less formal than official ones. These signatures are mostly used in private correspondence between friends and acquaintances. They include your name and any additional information you wish to include depending on the purpose of your email. You can close the email with a simple "Best regards" followed by your name. It can also be your name, followed by a link or profile on your website. A lot of personal email signatures include a photo.
Business email signatures can be more formal. These are usually attached to business emails to potential customers, partners, or often to colleagues. You must provide all contact information for the company you work for. It is mandatory to have a business signature for your business email in most countries.
A business email signature includes:
- Your name
- Your company's name
- Your role in the company
- Your contact details
- URL of the company website
- A picture (your logo or photo)
There are many ways to create an email signature for your business.
- You can build one in HTML. This requires you to be familiar with HTML and CSS.
- Get an email signature template to customize.
- You can use an online email signature generator.
What's an electronic signature?
Electronic signature software is similar to handwritten signatures. It is electronic, as the name implies. It can be used to sign electronic documents.
There are several types of documents that can electronically be signed:
Electronic signatures are often referred to as digitized signatures (scanned signatures). There is also a legal side to electronic signatures. An electronic signature is required to comply with e-signature-related regulations.
- Your personal Signature should match
- Signer identification
- Be verifiable
- Associate yourself with a specific document
- Assemble the data in the original document you signed. This means that other people cannot alter the data once the document has been signed.
- You must prove your intent by signing the document with your consent.
Depending on where you are located, there may be different requirements for electronic signatures. The US regulations (UETA), for example, are not as strict. Electronic signatures and electronic documents should not be denied legal validity.
According to the eIDAS regulation in the EU, electronic signature services can be used alongside handwritten ones. Only advanced electronic signatures can be accepted as valid in legal proceedings. Only qualified electronic signatures are legally equivalent to handwritten signatures.
eIDAS differentiates between three types of e-signatures based on the level of security.
Simple secure signatures are useful for day-to-day business. Advanced electronic signatures, however, are needed for legal matters. This is what an advanced e-signature looks like:
- It can be used to identify the signer.
- He or she has complete control over the signer data used to create signatures.
- If the original data in the document has been modified after signing, it should be immediately invalidated.
A qualified advanced e-signature is one that has been:
- "Qualified Electronic Signature Creation Device" is used to create the signature.
- Based on a qualified digital signature certificate
Instead of scanning your signature and inserting the image into a document as an image, you can use an electronic signature application. Your signature will look authentic and trustworthy.
What's a digital signature?
Digital signature technology refers to encryption technology (mathematical algorithm) that is used to create electronic signatures. This is an addition to an electronic signature and not a valid sign-off. It is an integral part of qualified and advanced electronic signatures in EU countries.
Encrypting the document seal of trust as well as the data within it can be used to prevent other people from altering its contents. Digital signature products can be used as a device security measure. A digital signature is also a security measure. The signer can confirm that it was he/she who signed it by using a private key.
Three main characteristics of digital signatures are:
- Authentication The sender or signer of the message is actually the person who signed it.
- No repudiation: The signer can not deny that he/she signed the document.
- Integrity The document data remain unchanged and cannot be modified after it has been signed.
Digital signature solution certificates should not be confused. It is a document signing regulation issued by trusted authorities that certify that you own the public key to your electronic signature. Digital certificates are valid for a short time.
We hope you will find it easy to distinguish between the electronic and digital signature processes in email signatures. We'll summarize by saying that email signatures can be used to close your email. Although it is required by law in many countries, email signatures are not considered legal terms.
An electronic signature, on the other hand, is a legal concept. It is simply a digital replacement for your handwritten signature. While it's sufficient for most cases, certain countries require a digital sign. It refers to the encryption measures used to protect your signature and "seal” the data you have acknowledged.