Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature. Still Don’t Know What’s What? Let’s Get it Straight.

Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature. Still Don’t Know What’s What? Let’s Get it Straight.

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Want to go paperless but the options are all too confusing? Read ahead, we’ve made it simple.

I hear there are electronic and digital signatures. Are they not the same? They aren’t. Digital signature is a subset of electronic signature, but conventional meanings of these terms are quite different. The confusion, though, is wide-spread.

Okay, what’s the difference between electronic signature and digital signature, then?The term electronic signature is technology-neutral and, as by ESIGN Act, can be pretty much any electronic manifestation of intent of consent with the document. Examples of electronic signatures: a name at the end of an email, a tick in a Terms & Conditions checkbox, an image of a handwritten signature. A digital signature is an electronic signature that uses cryptography to sign digital documents and uniquely associate them with the signers using a certain hash algorithm. It requires a certificate issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) to identify the signer.What is a Certificate Authority? A CA is a trusted entity that issues certificates to guarantee a signer’s identity. A digital certificate binds a particular person to their particular public key. The bond is secured by the CA with the its own private key.

Where are electronic signatures used? And digital ones? In most countries, electronic signatures have the same legal value as wet signatures. They are thus applicable in situations a wet signature would be sufficient. Digital signatures involve a third party that validates signers’ identities and guarantees nonrepudiation. The third party is basically a notary and thus digital signatures are used in situations when a trusted observer is required.What do electronic and digital signatures look like?For a user, both electronic and digital signatures usually look quite similar. Most of the time, they are represented by a person’s normal signature and a name. But digital signatures have a lot of cryptographic action under the hood that binds the information to the person.And which one should I choose? In general, an electronic signature is a legal way to sign documents, and a digital signature is a way to encrypt documents for additional security. Most businesses won’t ever be in a situation to need a digital signature, and thus an electronic signature is a sufficient and much more affordable option for them.

Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature. Still Don’t Know What’s What? Let’s Get it Straight.

 

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