An electronic signature is not in and of itself either a signature typed into an email or a signature that has been handwritten and scanned. The term refers to an online signature attached to a record and adopted by an individual with the intent to sign it.
The differences between digital signatures and electronic signatures can often be confusing. An electronic signature is a blanket term for a broad grouping that includes digital signatures as a specific subset. An electronic signature, or “e-signature,” is an umbrella term that applies not only to the distinct digital signature format, but to other types of electronic means of signing and signature authentication, as well. An electronic signature allows a person to handwrite his or her signature into a document or to sign with a click.
Electronic signatures generally consist of four basic components: a means of signing, a way of authenticating the related data, authentication of the signatories, and the capture of the signatories’ intent. E-signature technologies include items such as personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric markers, and other user identification processes.
Electronic signatures in general and digital signatures in particular allow users to speed up the signing and documentation process online. However, there are a variety of features that distinguish digital signatures from other kinds of e-signatures. They pertain to the variety of legal acceptance, geographical applicability, and technological modalities used.
Digital signatures as provided by DocuSign and other leading companies in the industry offer several advantages over other types of electronic signatures, namely:
A digital signature offers more security than an electronic signature. The unique identifying “fingerprint” data in a digital signature remains permanently embedded within a document. Signs that someone has tampered with or altered a document after signing it can be easily detected.
Through the use of encryption verification technology, known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), a digital signature offers the highest and most verifiable standard for identifying an individual by an electronic signature. The coded message in a digital signature uniquely identifies the signer and links him or her with a particular recorded document. DocuSign’s procedures meet all PKI requirements for safe signing and maintenance.