The Online Digital Signature Way

A Digital Signature Blog


Month List

June 7, 2016

Reading that heading, you may be confused that there is even a difference between digital signatures and electronic signatures. That is hardly surprising given how often the terms are used interchangeably. In truth, there are significant differences between the two.

To look at these differences, it is useful to be clear about what we want from signing a document.  When something is so commonly used for so long, it’s likely you’ve never really stopped to think about what a signature should do.

When a paper document is signed with a traditional wet ink signature, there are two things happening. The first is we are demonstrating proof of our identity. The size, shape and style of my hand written signature was evidence that the only person who could have signed the document was me. It made the document authentic.


The second thing was making the document reliable. Once my signature was applied to a document, the contents of the paper couldn’t be easily altered. If a new, slightly different document was created, my signature could not be copied to it. I would need to sign the new document to give it authenticity and reliability.


Electronic signing is a very broad term that covers any electronic method to indicate agreement.  Clicking a check box to agree with the software licence terms when you install software is a form of electronic signing. For most people though, electronic signing is about adding a representation of their hand written signature to an electronic document. This could be achieved by signing on a touch sensitive screen, sometimes referred to as signature on glass. The image of the signature may be placed in the document by using an online signing service. Or it could be as simple as copying a picture of your signature into the electronic document.


How well do electronic signatures pass our tests for authenticity and reliability? In the digital world, anyone with access to a scanner, which is pretty much everybody, can create a copy of your signature and place it in a document. If I receive a document that contains an image of a signature I can easily create a new document and transfer your signature to it. There is nothing about the signature image which prevents me from modifying the document with your signature remaining.  For these reasons, electronic signing provides limited authenticity and reliability.


For a signing process to be properly called digital signing, it must use the PKI standard. Each digital signature is unique to both the document and the person signing. It cannot be forged or copied to another document.  Any changes to the document will invalidate the signature. Think of a digital signature as an electronic signature that also seals the document’s content to provide the highest authenticity and reliability available.


Online digital signing is as easy as electronic signing but gives you a document that can be independently verified offline. You don’t need to rely on the signing service to validate the document and they don’t need to keep a copy of your document.

To see how simple it is to sign a document online with the security of a digital signature, try Secured Signing freeway account.  For the curious or technically minded we also have a lot more detail about how digital signing works at http://www.securedsigning.com/resources/intro-to-digital-signatures.

 

Til next time!

Cheers

John


General

May 3, 2016

In my opinion, eSignatures are easily the most innovative, efficient and cost-effective method of digitally signing online documents – everything from PDFs through to Word files. The wonder of these digital signature solutions is that they can attest to the validity and authenticity of both online and offline forms across industries that include the insurance, real estate, education, and local government sectors, as well as many others. A SaaS platform enables number of parties to sign legally binding digital papers such as application forms and corporate invitations in a mere matter of seconds: this significantly cuts down on 'administrative busywork' – something I'm sure no-one enjoys doing.

By using the latest in PKI technology, eSignatures offer users secure and easy-to-use solutions that digitally link a signatory to their signature. This guarantees total accountability for every document signed. Specialised cryptographic processing accurately detects any changes made to a signed document, effectively maintaining its data integrity. The beauty is: documents and their digital signatures can be authenticated and signed through online cloud-based services from a home or office computer.

This proves especially useful when it comes to working with the highly sensitive material of finance and legal firms. Through the use of secure and traceable encoding, the signing of extensive online documents by multiple parties is efficiently streamlined into a simple, almost instantaneous process. This advanced technology effectively boosts a business's administrative functioning by cutting down the number of clerical errors and reducing the amount of time spent on notarising vast stacks of work – not to mention serving as an eco-friendly way of quickly signing papers from anywhere in the world. As well as allowing users to sign numerous, verified forms in seconds – be it a loan application, leasing agreement, or follow-up transaction – eSignatures also make it easy to manage a traceable yet paperless archive for stress-free auditing. Ultimately, the benefits of using digital signature solutions are exhaustive – who wouldn't choose increased productivity over ineffectual labour?

Til next time!

Cheers

John


General

March 31, 2016

You may have seen the news item recently that nearly half of our current jobs will be replaced by technology. It’s been a recurring lament since the first labourer was replaced by a steam engine.  At a personal level, the rapid transformation of the economy and work is certainly challenging but, from enough distance, there are jobs that no one misses.I doubt anyone who used to collect night soil buckets regrets sewerage systems replacing outside toilets.

The word ‘computer’ used to be a job title, not a name for a device. Before electronic computers, there were people whose whole career was manually calculating tables that were used by other trades and professions. Ships were literally lost due to errors in the manually created log tables used by their navigators.

Considering this broader sweep of history, I don’t feel bad about my personal campaign to make data entry jobs redundant. When our only option was paper forms, someone manually entering data from those forms into software systems was a necessary evil. There are now better options.

Many organisations have made a sort of dead end progress with electronic forms that can be completed on screen but then have to be printed to be signed and sent back. Considering someone still needs to manually re-key what has already been typed into the electronic form, it’s not really much progress. What is needed is proper online forms, integrated to our software systems.

Form Direct solutions from Secured Signing can be filled in and signed on any device using a plain web browser. Mandatory fields are enforced and data is validated as it is entered, ensuring forms are complete and correct the first time. The completed and digitally signed PDF of the form sorts out your compliance and record keeping obligations. But the game changer is you also get the data that was entered into the form. This can be supplied as a file that is uploaded to your system or, better yet, we can call your software in real time and load the data directly.

Posting the data entered into your online forms directly into your core business systems not only saves duplication of effort, it improves the quality of your data.

Do your bit to get a data entry person a better job! Get rid of your paper forms and fillable PDFs.  Get some proper online forms that give you a digitally signed record and post data directly into your core business system.

Til next time!

Cheers

John


General

March 3, 2016

Each time I install some new software I am asked to sign to agree to the software licence for that product. To do this, I click on the box that says “I Agree”. If you have read that last sentence carefully you may be thinking that clicking a box is not ‘signing’ a document. Surely there needs to be some process that mimics a physical signature on a piece of paper?

Not at all! Most countries now have some sort of legislation that recognises business will be transacted electronically. In Australia and New Zealand this is the Electronic Transactions Act.  The legislation lays down the requirements for valid e-signatures. These include being able to demonstrate the identity of the signer and demonstrating their intent. The other test is that the method used to sign the document is “as reliable as appropriate for the purpose”.

There is no need for any process that looks like a traditional signature. So, a tick box is a legal signature. With your software licence there is no option to do anything but agree to the standard document. For this case, a tick box is likely to be as reliable as appropriate for the purpose.

Beyond these absolutely standardised documents, the trick is knowing what you are agreeing to.

The Western Australian courts recently found that a series of email messages constituted a legally binding contract. No tick box in sight, just the send button - repeatedly. Of course it took a court case or two, and who knows how much money to get an understanding that there was a contract and what was agreed.

To avoid this complication in your life there is a better alternative. Signing electronic documents online using a PKI based digital signature gives everybody a crystal clear understanding of who is agreeing to what.

A digitally signed electronic document is better than a tick box, or a simple electronic signature, in two important ways.

The first is that the signature is tied to the document content. If anything changes in the document, the signature is no longer valid. This is usually checked every time the document is opened. The second is that the digital signature creates an irrevocable link between the signer and the document. The signature cannot be forged nor copied to another document.

In these ways, the PKI based digital signature is as reliable as appropriate for any circumstance. If it’s important enough to sign, then anything other than a true digital signature isn’t good enough.

Secured Signing allows you to sign, or invite someone to sign, your document or form with a personal PKI digital signature for the price of a stamp. Register for a free account and securely sign your first electronic document now.

Till next time

Cheers

John


General

January 21, 2016

The era of internet and cloud computing is taking the information industry on a journey that mirrors Europe’s transformation from the medieval period to the Renaissance. Ensuring security and minimising risk is still important, but how that is achieved must change. Document level security provided by PKI based digital signatures ensure the authenticity and reliability of information independently of corporate networks and systems.

The Renaissance in Europe, fuelled by the free flow of ideas and new technology broke down medieval walled cities and created the modern city as we know it. Renaissance cities thrived on agility and reducing barriers to commerce - like gates that literally choked the number of people that could come and go inside a walled city. As the walls came down, the need for security did not go away but how it was achieved certainly changed. It became important to secure individual buildings, rooms and even strong boxes and safes rather than the whole town.

The same push for agility and flexibility means modern organisations must increasingly open up their networks and systems to engage directly with customers and the community. With this change must come a different approach to how information is kept secure. When documents are exchanged in electronic form, methods to provide simple, unambiguous confidence in the authenticity and reliability of these documents is vital.

Understanding the value of PKI based digital signatures and the risk of using signature images or simple electronic signatures is important in this context.

A digitally signature is invalidated if anything in the document changes. A digital signature cannot be copied to another document. The identity of the person who signed can be checked and objectively verified. The signed document is self-contained and standards based providing independence, long term reliability and portable security. Anyone opening the signed document can be confident it is reliable and authentic without needing to have access to your network or document management system.

The document centric reliability and authenticity you get with a PKI digital signature is a core capability for the information renaissance.

Every document signed with Secured Signing uses a personal PKI digital signature unique to the individual signing and the document being signed. People can sign anywhere, anytime and using any device.  There is no need to buy expensive hardware and software and commit to complex implementation projects.  You just create and account and pay for the documents you sign, when you sign them.

We’d love to answer any questions you have or discuss your specific needs. Please also feel free to register for a free account to try before you buy.

Till next time

Cheers

John


General