Electronic or digital signature?
While electronic signatures are basically an electronic symbol that is placed in a document by someone with the intent to sign it, a digital signature is an element that guarantees authenticity of a document (with or without an electronic signature on it).
Electronic signatures can be enough in most cases, meaning that they do have legal binding. However, depending on the document type (and also country legislation) a digital signature might be required for legal validation.
Digital signatures use digital certificates, which uniquely identify a signee. Digital certificates can be self-generated or provided by an official issuer. Again, in some cases self-generated digital certificates might suffice, while in others an official one is required.
Electronic signatures have two parts: an image of a pretend-to-be written signature, and the information that is saved together with that image. The latter is the one that is actually used in case that legal measures are taken on a document electronically signed. Depending on the signing platform, different pieces of information are saved when signing: hash of document, email address, timestamp and IP address being the most basic (and traditional) pieces of information.
However, although accepted in court, electronic signatures can be questionable, since the saved (binding) information can be somehow manipulated, as well as the signed document. For example, a signee might have different IP addresses when signing two documents: one from a mobile connection (e.g., 4g) and another from a land connection (e.g., fiber).
Digital signatures are used to guarantee that the contents of a document have not been edited in transit. That is, when using a digital signature, you guarantee that a document that you have signed, has not been changed since your signature. By using key-pair encryption, a digital signature can be used to prove that the document you signed is legit or that it has been tampered.
Signing documents in DocQ
Users can define their own signature image by either choosing from a predefined list of signature styles (i.e., different font styles), or by drawing his/her own signature and initials. The image will then be used every time a user signs a document. For the collection of external signatures, the process is exactly the same, where the signee will have to first define his/her signing image, and then proceed to the process of signing the document.
At the moment of adding signature images in the document, DocQ allows you to either use templates giving the exact positions where initials and signatures should go in the document, or leave it open so that the signee will freely place the signature images in the document.
DocQ supports signature by proxy, where a user can be explicitly trusted to sign on behalf of another user, for situations where the signing actions can be delegated. Also, DocQ supports bulk signatures, where various documents can be signed at once, for those situations where there is no need for the signee to actually access and read documents before signing. Bulk signature means that many documents will be signed at once by one individual signee.
With respect to digital certificates, every user has by default a digital certificate automatically generated by DocQ at the moment the user is created in the system. The default digital certificate can, at any time, be replaced by another valid certificate issued by a Certificate Authority. A user’s digital certificate will be used when digitally signing a document.
Digital signatures and the COVID-19
Although electronic and digital signatures were already widely used before 2020, the social distancing measures adopted around the world resulted in a significant increase in the search for platforms that provide such functionalities. Companies that before only operated with hard copies of documents, had to switch their processes overnight, introducing support to electronic and digital signatures so that business operations could continue.
In such a dramatic situation of unforeseen and sudden changes in well-established processes within organizations, an efficient platform is of utmost importance. DocQ steps up for not only providing the ability to easily and securely sign documents with electronic and digital signatures, but also being a complete platform for document and digital assets management.
Reach out to us for more information on how DocQ can help you with electronic and digital signatures, as well as in the process of document and digital assets management.