The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified

The Anatomy of the Audit Trail and its Electronic Signature Implications

An audit trail can be the deciding factor between a valid and invalid electronic signature document. Going by the actively surging electronic signature adoption rates and growing number of online businesses, there’s no arguing that eSignatures are here to stay.
Since eSignatures are soon to be the new normal, we thought we should discuss what an audit trail is and why it’s an important part of an electronic signature.
You may be familiar with the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures, in case you’re not, an electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that as long one can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted.
A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing.  You can read about the differences between electronic signatures vs. digital signatures here.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get to what an audit trail is and why it plays an integral part in the process of validating of a document.
Technopedia, the IT education site defines an audit trail, in the context of information technology, “as a chain of evidence in the form of hard or electronic business transactions or communications resulting from business processes, functions or programming executions.”
In other words, an audit trail is a detailed list of critical data points, pertaining to the transaction, that are recorded and reported. These data points help verify the validity of the transaction.
In terms of Electronic Signatures, an audit trail helps keep track and reports user data, furthering the validity of the signature process. Most, if not all serious eSignature vendors out there — including Signority — provide an audit trail with every electronic signature transaction.
Below is a list of important components we display in Signority’s audit trail:

  • Unique Document Title
  • Secured seal (Digital Signatures)
  • Email Address Of Signers And Viewers
  • The IP address of the involved parties
  • Documents viewed by each signer
  • Signers consent to terms of service
  • User authentication: SMS and Email
  • Signature creation (by each signer)
  • Party agreement to / acknowledgement of document
  • Document downloads after signing
  • Signer’s Status
  • GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

For the sake of avoiding any form of confusion, let’s go over what these components mean and what value they add to the entire electronic signature validation process.

Unique Document TitleBreaking down the Audit Trail

Unique Document Title

A unique document title is the unique file name of the document that was originally created by the document creator. The unique document name can be found in the first page of Signority’s audit trail.

Secured Seal
Secured seal (Digital Signatures)

The secured seal is native to Signority’s digital signatures audit trail, the Secured Seal is both “Tamper-proof” and “Digitally Encrypted”. Meaning that, if the audit trail document was tampered with or edited in a third-party software such as Adobe’s Photoshop, the seal would immediately break and be considered invalid.

Signority’s Secured Seal is only available with our digital signature plans. In order to make digital signatures available to our customers, we use a Hardware Security Module (HSM) provided by GlobalSign to help store and manage the digital keys used in the digital signing process.  

Want to know more about digital signature? Check out our post on the difference between electronic signature vs. digital signatures to learn more!

 

Email Address Of Signers And Viewers

The audit trail records and displays the email addresses of all parties involved, which can be either signer or viewer.

  • Signer: Signers’ are users who are required to sign a particular document. A signer could be a primary signer or a witness.        
  • Viewer: A viewer is a user with view-only capabilities.

IP address of user
The IP address of the involved parties

According to IP Location, an IP address or Internet Protocol is A unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the IP network.”
In terms of Signority’s audit trail, the IP address associated with a particular signer or viewer, at the time of viewing the document is recorded and reported — adding an extra layer of validity to electronic signature documents.


Documents Viewed By Each Signer

The Documents viewed by the signer or viewer is displayed in the name section in the Audit trail. The audit trail also displays the exact time the document was viewed.
 

GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

GUID’s of Globally Unique Identifiers, are defined by BetterExplained as “Large, enormous numbers that are nearly guaranteed to be unique.”
They usually look like this:
fa06cc7a-8a32-44c2-9e4d-2192818ab076
At Signority, every document created is assigned a Globally Unique Identifier and can be viewed in the audit trail.
 

Signers consent to terms of service

cSigners consent to use terms of service, refers to the signer or viewer agreeing to abide to the rules in order to use services provided by Signority.

 

User authentication: SMS and Email

Verifying the identity of a user before granting access to secured information is the main intention of the User Authentication feature.
With Signority there are two additional methods that can used to verify signers and viewers — i.e. SMS and email — when email and /or SMS password authentication is turned on by the user, Signority sends a randomly generated unique code to the recipient. The code is required to access the document.
The type of user authentication used is displayed in the “Authentication” section of the Signority’s Audit Trail.
 

Signature creation (by each signer)

The Signature Creation section is a critical component of the audit trail, it is the original signature of the required parties.
At Signority and most other eSignature providers, a party’s signature can be created by:

  1. Using a touch pad/screen or mouse
  2. Typing their signature using a keyboard
  3. Uploading a scanned copy of their signature

 

Document downloads after signing

Once the document is finalized by all of the signers, all parties involved are notified via email with an attached copy of the finalized document for safe keeping.
 
Signers-Status

Signer’s Status

The signers status reflect the final action taken by all required signer’s, the status can be: “Rejected”, “Waiting to Open”, “In Progress”, “Finalized and “Viewed” — depending on the action taken by the signer.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

11 Essential Resources For Your New Paperless Office

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Starting a digital office can seem a daunting task. You want to go in and go all the way – but what if you overlook a key aspect and everything stops working together? Not to worry. Here’s the list of resources you will need to utilize in your new paperless office. With nothing missing. Well, expect the paper.

Paperless invoicing

Freshbooks is a great service that can convert your billing and invoicing system to a secure electronic database. This “cloud accounting” service delivers a fast, accurate, easy to use, and professional interface for all your billing needs. Automated invoicing is available, as is integrations with Paypal and other online payment services. Use the system to generate reports, track expenses – even get the app to ride along.

  • $39.95 per month, plus $10 for each additional user; unlimited client entries and invoices.

paperless meetings 

TeamViewer lets you conduct paperless meetings and manage data within the paperless. You get remote access to any device 24/7 from ay computer or mobile device. Hijack your colleagues’ laptops to access data during meetings, plus use screen sharing, video and file sharing, included whiteboards, and teleconferencing to be effective and paperless. When meetings are over, upload slides and info to Dropbox or Basecamp easily and share the digital copies.

  • Licensing starts at $600 for three devices

Doodle and SurveyMonkey provide free service for conducting and scheduling meetings but don’t provide device connectivity and takeover capabilities.

Paperless scanning and faxing 

Turboscan is an excellent app that allows phone cameras to be used as scanners which then convert captured images to PDFs. High-quality photos are editable and may be stored and sent singularly or as large files.

  • $4.99 on iPhone or Android

Your office may also need a larger scanner for digital imaging. Here’s a PC World review of the best scanners for a paperless office.
eFax takes incoming faxes and puts them into your email box and easily-searchable emails. Send and receive faxes from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

  • $15 per month

paperless memos and notes 

Evernote lets you organize notebooks of digital notes, tasks, and can sync all your devices. Whether you use a laptop or an Android phone, you can have all your notes and thoughts wherever you go. Circulate ideas between team members

  • Free

PAPERLESS payments 

Square and PaypalHere let you process credit cards from the convenience of any mobile device and send paperless receipts to customers.

  • Fees range from 2-3% per transaction

Shoeboxed lets you send your mass of paper receipts into the Shoeboxed office and receive digital versions in return. They’ll scan your papers and index them in your account, letting you get reports and integrate the data into your database systems.

  • Pricing starts at $9.95 per month for 50 scans

PAPERLESS signatures 

Signority streamlines the essential process of acquiring customer signatures with one seamless digital application. Send and receive signed documents via a user-friendly interface usable across any device. Great for the most agile businesses, sign PDFs instantly, edit and store documents with one touch, and move forward faster.

 
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

5 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Brokers

insurance-brokers-electronic-signatures-digital

Do you use electronic signatures (eSignatures) for insurance?
Do you have the right contacts?
Are you on the right way to be the best insurance broker in the business?
As with any other profession, there are habits and best practices an insurance broker has to acquire in order to be on the top. I developed mine while working in the Canadian insurance industry for over 7 years, and I’d like to share them with you.
We all know that highly effective brokers use certain tactics to inspire confidence in their prospective clients to convince them on their choice. Which of them do you need to make a habit? Let us see!

1. Get yourself a good backup system

Whether it be the company you work for, your assistants or mentors, make sure that you have solid help to fall back on in challenging situations.
If you’re pressed for time, your eSigning service and means of communications should be ready for you. When what you need most is advice, your mentors should be there, and in cases where the key to getting a good deal is contacts and acquaintances then you should know where to go to get it.

2. Stay organized

Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
To me a cluttered desk means an organized mind. While this may be true only for a few people, what is most important is that you get a system working for you.
Take your Post-It’s out, get some cheerfully colored highlighters, use bookmarks, red threads and pins, whatever works. Make sure you feel comfortable navigating this system and you’re set. What worked for me was getting all unnecessary items out of the way. I got my office paperless, automated my assistants and did most money transactions online. The time-saving was considerable and infinitely helpful.  

3. Stay up-to-date

If you want to crush the competition, the key is to know it well. Go to trade organizations, keep up with the latest news, know what you’re doing inside and out. Attending industry events will not only give you valuable insights, but also make you friends in the right places, and that is also highly beneficial for business.
Don’t forget to keep notes on what standard practices everyone around you is following. While some of them may end up not being right for you, you can learn from them. If electronic signatures for insurance or TeamViewer is a popular choice, then there might be a reason for this. Conducting meetings over Skype is saving your competitor money? Try it out!

4. Cross-sell

One of the best qualities an insurance agent should have is the ability to cross sell products to customers. Remember that just about everyone needs more than one policy; combining homeowner’s or renter’s insurance with car or life insurance. Getting clients to buy additional products or services is key to maximizing profits and offering your customers a good deal.
Don’t skip on offering a bundle of products instead of just one policy. If they agree on a deal like this then good for you, if they don’t, then you’ve just done some publicity for another of your products.

5. Follow-up

Follow-up.
Your clients will notice, potential buyers and colleagues will appreciate it.
According to Follow Up Success, even though, 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact, nearly 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
Don’t hesitate on the follow-up. Send your customer or potential a personalized thank you note. Even if you didn’t land the deal at first, keep the interests of your prospective client at heart and drop them a line in case you can fix something up for them, it can become a successful arrangement in the future. Establishing good relationships with clients and colleagues alike can become a good foundation for growing your business.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.