How is Electronic Signature Defined?
According to current U.S. legislation and the Electronic Signature & Records Association (ESRA), eSignatures are defined as:vc“an electronic sound, symbol or process that is attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” The versatility of this definition, with sound, symbol or process being included into them, allows eSignature vendors such as AssureSign or Docusign to offer multiple solutions with the capacity to capture your electronic signature by way of just your voice, your computer, or even if you have a mobile device.
The way that a business can implement eSignatures into their business model is via their method of deployment.
Sales contracts, for example, quite often parallel the traditional ways of the signing process. The reviewer (signer) is faced with multiple documents and then is asked to initial or to sign in one or more locations. Now, consider that the online purchases from Amazon - despite its many annoyances from what you may traditionally consider being a “signing” process - that the actions that you take in purchasing products from their digital shelves are, by legal definition, an electronic signature!
See how this works?
You can add your signature to letters or to other documents that have been created in Microsoft Word and do so without having to print them out and sign them manually; saving time and saving paper. Word also allows you to insert an image of your signature directly into documents; thus giving it a unique stamp of your approval.
- What are digital signatures? Digital signatures are like electronic “fingerprints.” Digital signatures can be used as a standard or accepted format called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which can provide the highest levels of security as well as universal acceptance. These are a specific signature technology implementation of electronic signature (eSignature).
- Steps To Signing eSignatures
- STEP #1: First thing you will need to do is to sign your name on a blank sheet of white paper, and it is essential to make sure you sign legibly.
- STEP #2: Secon, you will need to scan the paper containing your signature, thus choosing a dot per inch (DPI); setting no smaller than 300.
- STEP #3: Next you will need to save the scanned signature in a Word-compatible format in a folder on your computer.
- STEP #4: Next step you will need to put your cursor on the place in your Word document so that you can add your signature. Click on "Insert" from the Word menu, select "Picture" and choose "From File."
- STEP #5: Finally, you will need to enter the dialog box that will appear, thus allowing you to find the signature image file on your computer.
What’s the difference between a digital signature and an electronic signature?
There is a broad category of electronic signatures (eSignatures) encompasses many different types of electronic signatures. Theses category can include digital signatures, which can be specific technology implementation of electronic signatures.
Both the digital signatures and the other eSignature solutions allow you to sign documents as well as authenticate the signer. However, there are some differences in regards to the purpose, the technical implementation, the geographical use, and the legal and cultural acceptance of digital signatures .
This is more than evident in the laws and requirements about esignature that are starkly different in countries. For example, technology-neutral eSignature laws inside the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, and many other Western countries follow the tiered eSignature models. For other countries that prefer the local defined standard of signing -- digital signature technology, including many countries in the European Union, South America, and Asia may make esignatures a bit more challenging to implement.
- How do digital signatures work?Digital signatures, much like handwritten signatures, is unique to each signer. Digital signature solution providers, such as the very popular DocuSign, follow a specific protocol that is called PKI. PKI requires that the provider use a mathematical algorithm to generate two long numbers; which are called keys. One key is public, and the other key is private
When a signer electronically signs a document, the signature then creates a key using the signer’s private key. The mathematical algorithm then acts as a cipher, generating data that matches the signed document. This is called a hash, as well as encrypting that data. The resulting encrypted information is the digital signature. The signature is then marked with the time of the signature. If the document changes after it has been signed, the digital signature is then invalidated. For example, let's say that Jane signs an agreement to sell a timeshare using her private key. The buyer then receives the document from Jane. The buyer who gets the document also will receive a copy of Jane’s public key as well.
If the public key cannot be decrypted the signature, then that means the signature isn’t Jane’s signature or has been changed since it was signed. The signature will then be considered invalid. To protect the integrity of the signatures, the PKI requires that the keys be created, conducted, and saved securely. This will often require the services of a reliable Certificate Authority (CA).
- How do I create a digital signature?ESignature providers offer solutions based on digital signature technology. These make it very easy to sign documents digitally. They also provide an interface for sending as well as signing papers online thus making them work with the appropriate Certificate Authorities.
Depending on the Certificate Authority you are using -- you will be required to supply specific information. There also may be restrictions as well as limitations on whom you send documents to for signing.
- Why would I use a digital signature? Many industries, as well as geographical regions, have established the eSignature standards that have been based on digital signature technology, along with specific certified CAs, for business documents.
Following these local geographic and industrial standards -- the basis on PKI technology can ensure the enforceability as well as the acceptance of an e-signature solution in each global location and local market.
- What is a Certificate Authority (CA)?Digital signatures, as mentioned before, rely on two keys which are: the public keys and private keys. Those keys have to be protected to ensure that your safety is secure as well as to avoid forgery or malicious use. When you send a document or sign a document, you will also need assurance that the papers, as well as the keys, are created securely and that they are using valid keys.
CAs, are a type of Trust Service Provider. These act as a kind of third-party organizations. They have been widely accepted and regarded by many to be as reliable for ensuring essential security and as such can provide the necessary digital certificates. Both of the entities that are sending the document along with the recipients signing it must agree to use a given CA.
- What is a Certificate Authority (CA)?Yes.
The EU passed the EU Directive for Electronic Signatures back in 1999, as well as the United States passing the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) back in 2000. Both of these geographic and political bodies acts made electronically signed contracts and documents legally binding; which made them like paper-based contracts. Since the passing of these laws the legality of electronic signatures has been upheld many times.
By now, most countries have adopted legislation as well as regulations that have been modeled after the United States model as well as the European Union model, with many having a preference in many regions for the E.U. model of locally managed and digital signature technology-based eSignatures.
Furthermore, many companies have also improved their compliance with the regulations that have been established by their industries. This has all been achieved by using digital signature technology.
Brief Description Of Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Word (MS) documents is a renown and widely used software that has become very beneficial to students, writers, journalist, and overall to anyone who must write in general. MS documents store vital information for users and many times these files will carry sensitive information -- as such they will require that they are protected. For these specific situations, MS Word itself provides a brilliant opportunity for users to lock as well as unlock the word files so that the data cannot be altered or misused by any unauthorized users. Due to the high level of security MS Word is also a software that is very popular amongst Apple users as well.
Benefits of Microsoft Word
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