Benefits of Digital Signatures

You may have heard the term digital signature thrown around frequently and many consider it synonymous with electronic signature. In this post, we’ll go over the benefits of digital signatures and touch on how they differ to help you decide which is the best option for you!

What is an Electronic Signature?

First, by definition, an electronic signature is simply information in electronic form that captures the intent of a signer. This means that the “signature” can be in the form of a symbol, typed text, or even image or sound, as long as the intention is present and captured. By law, this will make the signature and document legally-binding and accepted. Therefore, if the person’s association and intent are both demonstrated in the signature, then the document is legally accepted. The person’s association and intent are both captured in the audit trail. For more information about the audit trail, check out our blog post on the anatomy of an audit trail. You can learn more about electronic signatures in our whitepaper “A Brief Introduction to eSignatures“.

What is a Digital Signature?

So how is a digital signature any different from an electronic signature? Well, technically, a digital signature is a form of electronic signature that further improves the security and authentication of the signature.

Digital Signature work as an extra protective layer on top of electronic signatures, rather than replacing them. When a document is digitally signed, a cryptographic operation binds an Adobe-verified digital certificate to the PDF file data, creating a unique digital “fingerprint”. The digital certificate and the unique fingerprint are what makes digital signatures so viable.

If you’d like a more technical breakdown of how digital signature technology works, check out our whitepaper on the breakdown of digital signature and its differences to eSignature.

Benefits of Digital Signatures

As a result of Digital Signatures, you can be assured of 3 things:

  1. Signer identity is valid – you will know that the signers are who they say they are
  2. Tamper-proofing – you can be ensured that the document hasn’t been tampered with, otherwise, the signature would be invalidated
  3. Non-repudiation – the signer cannot deny having signed the signature and is possible to prove in court

This is shown through the final PDF document that comes from Signority. When you open the document in a PDF reader, you will see a blue banner that verifies and authenticates the signing process.

the benefits of digital signatures shown in the finalized document

If the document is ever tampered with, with either photoshop or with a text editor, you will notice the blue banner is now broken and it will say the certification is invalid.

tampered documents will have broken banners highlight benefits of digital signatures

Clicking the Signature Panel button on the right of the banner brings up even further details about the signing process. You’ll see a sidebar appear with the following information shown for the signature. You can see that it gives plenty of information on the signing process, such as the validity of the signer identity, the timestamp, etc. Clicking on the Certificate Details… will also bring further information, include the public and private keys used to encrypt the document.

benefits of digital signatures - signature validation

You can see the benefits of digital signatures already with the level of encryption information stored directly in the file. These documents will be secured forever regardless of what happens to the involved parties!

You can learn more about digital signatures and whether it’s best for you by checking out our whitepaper on the breakdown of electronic signature vs digital signature here.

Further Reading

Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?

The Breakdown: Electronic Signatures vs. Digital Signatures Blog post

Electronic Signature Authentication using Email and SMS

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