An electronic signature is a digital signature that can be used to authenticate an individual's identity and/or the document's authenticity. An electronic signature is an umbrella term that covers digital signatures. Electronic signature covers the signatures from the simplest to the most complex versions. It is an electronic representation of a handwritten signature. Electronic signatures are also broadly valid as the modern substitute for a wet signature. There are several ways to authenticate and identify the signers to meet the legal requirements in different countries.
An electronic signature can be used for many purposes, including verifying that a document was sent by the person who claims responsibility for it, proving that a document was not altered after it was signed and providing legal evidence that the signer has agreed to terms in a contract.
A digital signature always relies on crypto-based technology. This means that the document's content will always be locked and secured when placing a digital signature. You always guarantee that no one has changed the document's content after signing. It is not always valid for electronic signatures.
There are many advantages to using electronic signatures. One of the most important is that they are much more secure than a traditional signature. They can't be forged, which means you know who has signed the document, and it's impossible to change the document's content without leaving a digital fingerprint.
Electronic signatures also save time and money for both companies and individuals. They don't have to go through the process of printing documents, signing them, and then scanning them back in, which could sometimes take days or weeks.
The European Union has been working on a new regulation called eIDAS to simplify and unify the laws for electronic identification, authentication, and trust services.
eIDAS is a legal regulation that unifies the laws of the EU member states, creating a single framework that applies throughout Europe. It was created to simplify and unify electronic identification, authentication, and trust services laws. It became valid in 2016.
eIDAS divides eSignatures into three categories as follows:
Electronic signatures are created in several ways. One method involves using your own signature on the document and then copying it to the document. A second option is to use a digital scanner to capture an image of your wet signature, which is then placed on the document. These ways of producing a signature represent simple electronic signatures according to eIDAS.
Simple electronic signatures (SES) are a relatively new innovation in the field of digital signatures. They can be used to replace a variety of handwritten signatures, including those on credit card receipts and other contracts. SES is especially useful in countries where they are legally accepted, such as the United States.
Advanced electronic signatures are a more secure and advanced way to sign documents digitally. Electronic signatures are needed to prove the authenticity of any digital communication, including emails, contracts, and other business documents. These signatures can be used to verify the sender and recipient's identity without relying on another third-party institution.
In advanced electronic signatures, digital certificates must be used to verify signatories’ identities. A digital certificate is an embedded process in the operation so that you wouldn’t observe directly if it is a digitally certified signature or not. To know about it, you can check the seals from different digital certificate providers rooting from standardized regulations to be accepted as an AES. In the operating process, the signatories receive the document and sign as usual while applying the certificate in the senders' requested document. So that the signer's identity is checked through digital certificates but not guaranteed, it is known that the signature is undoubtedly linked to the signer. Furthermore, the security level can be supported by multi-factor authentication.
QES are the highest degree of electronic signatures based on the eIDAS classification. They are Government-authorized qualified trust service providers (QTSP) that allow electronic signatures to be qualified to:
This type of electronic signature is suitable for specific uses, for example, medical or law-related papers that would contain highly sensitive data. Electronic signatures might have different validities in different countries.
To decide which type of electronic signature is right for you, take a look at the requirements in the law of your country for specific cases.
How about Digital Signatures? Where do they stand?
To find out more about digital signatures, check this article: What is Digital Signature?
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