The Online Digital Signature Way

A Digital Signature Blog

Month List

July 21, 2011

Ever wondered if it’s legally binding to sign your business documents online?

A brief history first. Early Roman law recognised the amalgamation of seals and signatures as a principal for the authentication and legality of documents. Centuries later (mid-nineteenth century), the Morse Code and telegraph were recognised as the first legal ‘electronic’ signatures. The following century (1976) saw Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman lead the way to implement the legal equivalent to a written signature using cryptographic method; and then in 1996, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law published the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce with Guide to Enactment that influenced the development of electronic signature laws internationally.  

Since that time, around the world, different laws have been passed that guarantee the legal authority and enforcement of electronic signatures: Uniform Electronic Transactions Acts (UETA), Electronic Signatures In Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), FDA 21CFR Part 11, EU Directive for Electronic Signatures, Electronic Transactions Acts in different countries, and many others.Digital Signature Legality

The legal specification for a signature is fulfilled by means of an electronic signature if the signature:

  • Appropriately identifies the signatory
  • Appropriately indicates the signatory’s authorisation of the information to which the signature relates; and (Intent)
  • Is as reliable as is appropriate given the occurrence

An electronic signature is adequately reliable if the means of creating the signature is connected to the person who signs the document, is under their control and no one else’s, and if the system can detect any changes made to the document and signature.

It is imperative to highlight that although the term used in all acts is ‘electronic signature’, the ‘digital signature’ is a sub group within electronic signatures that uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) — the only technology that ensures non-forgeable signatures. Secured Signing’s user-based PKI digital signature application provides the highest form of digital signature, and content that guarantees signer authenticity, data integrity, and non-repudiation of signed documents and transactions. If the document is altered, signatures immediately become invalid. 

“We are confident that the systems used by Secured Signing ensure that the electronic signatures produced meet the legal requirements for a signature. In fact, the security and logging facility, in our view, provides better authenticity than many of the methods by which documents are now commonly signed and exchanged (e.g. e-mail and facsimile). So, unless there are specific laws dictating that a document can only be signed in a particular way (as far as we are aware, the only common law which does this relates to wills), any form of contract can be signed using the Secured Signing System.” Rick Shera / Angela Beros , Partner / Solicitor, LOWNDES JORDAN, Barristers & Solicitors

Till next time,

Cheers, John


July 14, 2011

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

The above is true and valid whether we explore the formula for successful relationships between couples, or within digital signature service and its users.

‘Get along’ in my view, refers to a partner or service that is able to implement the following:

Build trust — trust is the foundation for any rewarding relationships. It must be earned, guarded carefully, and maintained with constant actions. In today’s versatile technology environment, even the savvy experts in the electronic signature field agree that PKI digital signature technology is the ultimate way to sign documents online. Within this advanced technology, you can find variations that range from the PKI System Signing option, to the highest level of security, and the most trustworthy choice of all — the user-based PKI digital signature solution.

Communicate — explore the relationship from both the partner’s and/or user’s point of view, listen, and respond: you need to ask the basic essential questions, and explore how all parties experience the relationship? What sort of label would they put on it?Digital Signatures Service Relationship A successful service provider is able to ‘see the forest as well as the trees’.  Senior managers become aware observers who can clearly identify and understand the needs of their customers, consider best options, and offer an instant comprehensive response. The digital signature service communicates continually and proactively with its users. We ask for and get ongoing feedback, respond promptly to issues as they arise, initiate new technological and service upgrades, notify clients with new updates, and offer customised and tailored solutions.           

Develop positive relationships that last — this is possible only if the previous two elements are actually demonstrated repeatedly. In the digital signature service realm of Secured Signing — they definitely are!          

Till next time,

Cheers, John


July 5, 2011

Traditionally, ROI is defined as “The amount expressed as a percentage that is earned on a company’s total capital calculated by dividing the total capital into earnings before interest, taxes, or dividends are paid” (Webster’s Online Dictionary). In recent years, additional areas have been identified, and discussions about Social Return on Investment (SROI), and Return on Environment (ROE) are not a rarity (the latter will be discussed in a separate, future blog).

Return on Investment (ROI) is considered to be a fundamental aspect for business success in every industry, and one of the most important calculations a business should do. The digital signature technology’s economic rate of return is high, achieving an exceptional value for the business, its customers, and its shareholders. The deployment of digital signature solution shows significant rises in profit gains, business productivity, and improved efficiency due to:

Digital Signature ROI

  • Reduction of variable costs – eliminates the Print – Sign – Scan – Delivery of documents
  • Reduction of fixed costs – eliminates the need for storage, maintenance, and security of documents 
  • Proper use of workforce – staff freed from paper handling to handle core business
  • Reduction of Directorial related costs – internal and external managerial monitoring operations take place online

A survey conducted in 2010 compared the gain of benefits to set-up costs for users of digital signatures technology. The feedback revealed that 63% of users achieved ROI in 12 months or less, and 78% in 18 months or less. The results exceeded users’ expectations and represented an incomparable financial outcome for an IT project. (Doug Miles, 2010, AIIM,

Whether we call it ROI, Rate of Profit, or just Return, — We Show You the Money!          

Till next time,

Cheers, John.


June 28, 2011

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice from many alternatives.” William A Foster 

The above is true whether we are describing the quality or performance of a leading digital signature service, the latest elite car design, or the flagship model of a bike. It is all about the reality we offer to our customers!

Measurement of technical performance of a service or product could include different factors. In today’s discussion, I choose to focus on the following qualities:       

Digital Signature quality is guarnteed

Accuracy – to ensure that information provided to customers is appropriate and correct. The digital signature service provides clear and accurate documentation to its customers, and the user-based PKI technology certifies signatory’s authenticity and data integrity.

Availability – the probability that the service will be accessible and functioning at all times. A user can access the digital signature service from anywhere in the world, at any time. They can sign and invite others to sign, add documents, create signing workflow, view and monitor the signing process, and verify archived signed documents either offline on their desktop, or regularly online at the free Verification Service.       

Efficiency – the service requires less input to produce more output. Signing documents online stops the Print – Sign – Scan – Deliver – Storage process. It saves time, cuts operational costs, reduces the contract signing process from days to seconds, increases customer satisfaction, and frees staff, budget, and other resources for the core business.      

Latency – the amount of time it takes to respond to a given input. The registration and actual signing process of a document takes seconds. The Broadcasting feature (send to mass invitee list using xls, xlsx, or csv file format), and the multi-page signing feature are examples of the innovative technical components that allow the signing of hundreds of pages, or an invitation to even hundreds of people to sign with just the click of a mouse.       

Back to my title, the performance evaluations below could equally apply to any of the three that are mentioned as they refer to the same levels of quality and satisfaction:

“It provides a combination of performance, comfort, and everyday drivability that would have seemed impossible 10 years ago.”

Michael Austin, review of 2012 Ferrari FF, Car and Driver Magazine, June 2011     

“A desire to come back to that same bike each day will depend on the post-ride experience. ‘I felt fresh’ means you are likely to follow your programme and not skip days because you are exhausted from a bike which doesn’t match your needs. ..the biggest performance gains are not purchased in a store but products can help get you on the road, to the place where they’re earned.”

Alex Malone, review of Arctec R, Ride Cycling Review, June 2011

Till next time,

Cheers, John


June 21, 2011

All too often I read articles that use the terms digital signatures or electronic signatures as if they were the same thing — which they are not. It will be useful to briefly point out and clarify the significant differences between the two terms for ease of future discussions.   

Digital Signature is the only choice

The term electronic signatures relates to any type of electronic data.The US Code defines the electronic signature as any electronic process, sound, or even symbol that is added to a document and relates to a person.  Although they are easy to implement (something as simple as a typed name can serve as one), electronic signatures are vulnerable to forgery and tampering as there is nothing to prevent one individual from typing another individual’s name. Unless the electronic signatures incorporate additional measures of security, they are considered an insecure way to sign documents.

The digital signature belongs to a sub-group within the electronic signatures category; it applies cryptographic operations and uses scientifically founded technology for the highest level of security.The idea of digital signatures originated from Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman’s seminal paper New Directions in Cryptography (1976). In this paper, they discussed theories of communication and computation in relation to cryptographic issues, suggested ways to minimise the need for a secure key distribution channel, and implemented the equivalent to a written signature.    

Years later, the new class of encryption algorithms evolved into digital signature user-based PKI technology that provides each user with an exclusive signing key (digital ID) which is unique to both the document and the signatory, and accessible only to that user. The signed document is sealed, and any changes made to the document after it is signed invalidate the signature. This secure implementation, therefore, certifies the signatory’s authenticity, accountability, data integrity, and establishes a basis for non-repudiation of documents and transactions. 

Till next time,

Cheers, John