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Are Electronic Signatures Safe in 2023?

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Electronic signatures eliminate all security concerns. They are safer than traditional wet signatures. Wet signatures can be forged and tampered with. Still, electronic signatures have many layers of security that make it difficult to alter them. You can also use them without worrying about security because they come with court-admissible audit reports.

Yes, electronic signatures can be trusted. In this post, we will explain why an eSignature is safer than a traditional wet signature, how they work, and the security features that make them secure.

What is an E-signature?

E-signatures or electronic signatures are various methods to attach identity to documents. They are electronic and can be as simple or complex as a photo of a handwritten signature or as complicated as a digital signature certificate created via PKI. E-signing has seen a tremendous rise in popularity in recent years. This is likely because of the increasingly paperless world we live in. Documents need to be signed, and e-signing offers an efficient, modern, and convenient solution.

Electronic signatures have been adopted by many businesses and consumers, as well as some government processes. Different types of eSignature free and paid may be used depending on the use case. Each type offers a different level of authentication of the identity attached. Electronic signatures are now considered equal to handwritten signed documents in many jurisdictions.

While "electronic signatures" and "digital signatures" can be interchangeably used for casual use, they are different. A digital signature refers to a particular type of secure electronic signature that uses an algorithm for cryptographically authenticating a document.

Difference between Digital Signature and an Electronic Signature?

To authenticate the identity and requestor, digital certificates use PKI certificates issued from eSignatures. This authentication method is the best to protect electronic documents. It directly links the identity to the document and ensures its legitimacy.

Digital signatures meet the most stringent regulatory requirements. These include the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of the United States (UETA), the United States Electronic Signatures in Global Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), and other applicable international laws such as eIDAS.

Alternative forms of electronic signatures use less secure authentication methods. These could include email addresses, phone numbers, or other contact information. There are many electronic signature laws around the globe, and there are different requirements to verify the signer's identity.

Different Types of Electronic Signatures

There are three major types of electronic signatures. These differences are described in the 2016 electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services regulation (eIDAS) passed by the European Union. These regulations are also applicable to the United States.

This regulation establishes the legal framework for electronic identification, signature process, seals, documents, and other matters throughout the EU. These signatures are commonly integrated into business processes and workflows. They have become a standard part of the internet user experience.

Simple Electronic Signatures (SES).

These are the simplest and broadest types of electronic signatures. eIDAS describes them as "data in an electronic format that is attached to or logically linked with other data in an electronic form and which the signatory uses to sign." They don't require identity verification, and the person signing the document is responsible for trusting them.

Sometimes, electronic signatures are legally binding in certain cases. For many documents, however, you will need to have higher qualifications.

Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES).

These signatures are not like simple electronic signatures. They require identity verification. These signatures are based on certificates that uniquely identify the signer. They are usually transmitted using a specific delivery service, which can provide audit trails and other evidence about the transmitted data. These signatures are usually certified by a Certificate Authority (CA).

Qualified Electronic Signatures

These electronic signatures are similar to advanced ones but meet additional requirements outlined by the eIDAS regulations. Qualified electronic Signatures (QES) must be based on reasonable technological means to issue public keys. An audited entity, such as a certificate authority, must also have the ability to identify the signatory before signing. Face-to-face identification is possible via video chat or in person.

Legality

Electronic signatures are subject to many legal requirements around the globe. The legality of electronic signatures in the United States revolves around four main pillars.

Intent

Electronic signatures are no different from handwritten signatures in that they express intent. It must be clear that the signatory intends to attach their name/identity to the electronic document. You cannot force anyone to opt out of the electronic signature and make it legal.

Consent

Every party must consent to the electronic contract or document being signed. Electronic signatures are only valid if the parties have consented earlier and never withdrew.

Accuracy

Not only must the specific method of attaching an electronic signature be documented, but also must it be accurate. The record must also explain in detail the process used to create and attach the signature.

Retention

An electronic signature record must be reproduced accurately and made available to any party with the right to it. This creates an audit trail that allows for access to all records.

Benefits of eSignature Software for Businesses

All contracts before electronic signatures were legalized had to be signed and scanned. This process is time-consuming and costly whereas eSignatures are much better.

Save Time and Reduce Errors

Electronic signatures are a time-saver for companies.

Businesses can send documents to clients and partners quickly using electronic signatures. This reduces the time it takes to print, scan, fax, and mail documents.

Businesses can also get signed documents back quicker with electronic signatures. Electronic signatures have increased company turnaround times by 80%.

Electronic signatures also reduce administrative time by up to 80% and lower error rates.

Convenient and Flexible

Many businesses use free digital signature software to enable clients and business partners to sign documents anywhere and anytime, thanks to the increasing popularity of remote work and virtual operations.

Clients can also sign electronic documents from their mobile devices, whether they are using a tablet, a computer, or a smartphone.

Easily Track Signatures

Electronic signatures offer another advantage: Organizations can track the status of all documents that are being signed.

Businesses can keep control of and see all signature workflows by using electronic signature software that includes notifications, reminders, sign dashboards, and notification features.

They can view all sales contracts, human resources forms, purchase orders, and invoices. To help maintain a smooth workflow, you can schedule automatic reminders if a document is not signed.

This reduces the time required to track down signatures manually and is especially useful for organizations with multiple signature workflows.

Cost-Saving and Eco-Friendly

Businesses can use traditional signatures to sign documents. They must print them out and send them to their address. Shipping and printing can be expensive, especially for international documents. Businesses can sign legally binding, 100% paperless documents from anywhere with electronic signatures. This will allow you to save thousands on paper and postal supplies while showing your environmental commitment.

More Secure

A business could be sending sensitive documents to outside signers and putting their most important documents at risk.

Electronic signatures include traceable data that can be traced back to the person who signed it. It can also show where they signed it.

Many electronic signature solutions provide an audit log, which provides a time-stamped record of signature activity. This report can be emailed weekly by account administrators to enhance security.

Many electronic signature software solutions also offer cloud storage options, which provide extensive security features, so all signed documents can be safely stored and accessible at all times.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from electronic signatures.

Are Electronic Signatures Safe in 2023?

People often ask, "Can my digital signature easily be forged or misused?". However, electronic signatures are much more secure and authentic than wet signatures. They also have court-admissible proof that the transaction occurred.

Electronic Record

E-signature providers might offer an electronic record, which can be used as an audit trail or proof of transaction. The audit trail could include information such as the history of signatures and details about when the document was opened, viewed, and signed. The provider may allow access to the signer's location. If the signer has agreed, the record will also include the geolocation of the signed document. This audit trail can be used to resolve any objections or disputes between signers.

Certificates of Completion

You can get more detailed certificates of completion that include details about each signer, such as the consumer disclosure that indicates the signer has agreed to use electronic signatures, the signature image, key event timestamps, and the signer's IP address or other identifying information.

Seal of Tamper-Evident

After the signing process is completed, some providers may digitally seal documents using Public Key Infrastructure(PKI), an industry-standard technology. This seal confirms that the electronic signature is valid and that the document was not altered or altered after signing.

User Verification 

To comply with eSignature legislation, secure signature solutions must "logically associate" a signature and the signer. Multiple tools can be used to authenticate user identities, including access keys, IP addresses, user IDs, digital certificates, and user IDs.

Document Locking 

Users cannot modify a signed document until they have cleared or invalidated all signatures.

Audit Trails 

History records any actions performed by a user in a document. This includes signing, editing, or commenting. This allows you to see who and when a document was used.

Multifactor Authentication 

If you want to increase security for your electronic signatures, multifactor authentication protects your documents using access codes. This ensures that only authorized people can view and sign your documents.

Secure Storage 

Securing paper documents properly is more expensive and difficult than securing electronic ones. Paper documents are more susceptible to theft, have larger storage space, and can be lost faster than their digital counterparts. Document verification Signatures can only be as secure as the documents they are stored on. Secure electronic signature solutions require document verification. Document verification ensures the document is not altered after it has been signed. All signatures become invalid if any changes are made to the document.

What Makes an Electronic Sign Legally Binding?

The U.S. Federal Government passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in 2000. This Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act UETA confirm that electronic signatures are legally binding documents if all parties sign digitally.

E-signatures encompass all technologies and solutions that allow you to sign documents electronically. These can be simple images or PKI-based signatures. There are many capture options available, including:

  • Clicking on "I Agree!" to go to a website
  • Signing with your finger using a mobile device
  • Online forms require you to enter your PIN or name
  • eSignly eSignature - Use an e-signature software

Are Electronic Signatures Legal in all States?

Yes, electronic signatures can be used in all U.S. States and have the same legal status under state laws as handwritten signatures. Electronic signatures are legal in other industrialized countries and have the same weight and efficiency as handwritten signatures. 

A legally enforceable document can be created using an electronic signature such as the eSignly eSignature. In the United States, additional authentication may be required for certain situations. Tools such as eSignly standards-based signatures can be used to sign documents digitally. Digital signatures are also more common in regions such as the European Union.

Is Electronic Signature Legal?

Combining e-signatures with strong authentication, tamper sealing, and audit trails can provide stronger court-admissible proof than a simple wet or scanned image of a signature on a PDF.

For wet signatures, validity is usually established by comparing signatures and providing testimony from witnesses or handwriting experts. This is not only time-consuming and costly, but it also makes the process less reliable because of the human element. Audit trails eliminate human error and automate the whole data capture process. This makes it easier to verify the authenticity and resolve disputes about signatures in both state and federal courts.

How to Choose the Right eSignature Software in 2022?

You are interested in streamlining your signature process and being able to request and sign signatures electronically.

There are many options for platforms.

Understanding the key features, you will need when choosing an electronic signature free or paid platform is important.

These are the eight things to consider when choosing a vendor.

Sign Documents on Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are essential for salespeople. 83% report that mobile tools give them an advantage over their competitors.

Digital signature platforms must be able to cater to this growing demand and provide the functionality that allows stakeholders to sign wherever they are.

Real-Time Analytics Available

Access to real-time data can help you understand how leads and prospects are engaging with your proposals. Do they open the document multiple times? Is it taking them a while to sign?

This information is available on-demand, which can help you improve your proposals and speed up the process of signing deals. You will find the best e-signature software with helpful analytics. This lets you see who is opening your proposals and (hopefully!) signing on the line.

CRM Integrations

Most sales teams use CRM (customer relationship management). The best thing about CRM platforms is their integration with other platforms and apps, allowing you to streamline your business processes.

An e-signature platform that is reliable and uses integration with your CRM platform will make it easier for sales reps to monitor what's going on in their business pipeline. This will help them save time and effort.

Respect Security and Privacy Regulations

Communication must be secure for clients, users, and document signers.

Your chosen e-signature platform should comply with privacy regulations in all territories where you operate.

For example, all legal documents in the UK and EU must comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

You can also find specific guidelines for e-signatures.

  • The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Acts (ESIGN and UETA in the USA).
  • The EU's electronic identification and authentication services (eIDAS).

To be legally binding documents signed electronically, the platform for e-signature must be secure and in compliance with the laws of your state or country.

Make sure to read the fine print and pay attention to specific details regarding authentication, record keeping, encryptions, and other features.

Scalability

After you have succeeded in the sales department, other departments will likely be interested. The human resources team may be interested in e-signatures to sign internal documents or recruit remote staff.

An electronic signature solution that scales well will allow you to add users or expand your license to other teams easily.

Automation Capability

Automating processes can save time and reduce costs. This is especially important for salespeople considering that 35% of their time goes to selling.

Automating repetitive tasks and admin can help reduce time. E-signature software can also be a time saver.

Some platforms provide automated reminders or responses, so sales teams can concentrate more on creating new opportunities. This has clear business value.

Flexible and Reasonable Prices

Many solutions provide free trials to allow you to compare them before you decide on your favorite. You can also choose from different subscription levels.

It is important to evaluate the price and use any freemium features before you sign up for a paid service.

Use it Quickly

The best thing about any solution is its ability to make your life easier.

A platform for e-signature must be easy for salespeople and clients. Spending time explaining how to use the platform or signing documents digitally could be more productive.

The Key Takeaway

The right digital signing solution can make electronic and digital signatures fully proofed and impossible to forge as long as the private keys are kept private. An audit trail tracks the date and time of signing e-signatures. This depends on privacy permissions. Electronic and digital signatures offer more security and convenience than traditional wet-ink signatures.