The Difference Between Digital Signatures and Electronic Signatures - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Difference Between Digital Signatures and Electronic Signatures


An electronic signature is a way of representing your signature on a computerized document, for example a delivery slip. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Difference Between Digital Signatures and Electronic Signatures

The Difference Between Digital Signatures and
Electronic Signatures
I dont know why, but the technology industry
loves to use acronyms and words that seem to
either overlap with other similar words, or that
are a slight variation on a word, but with widely
different meanings. This is the case in the world
of digitized signatures too. The terms,
electronic signature and digital signature
are often used interchangeably, but they are in
fact different beasts all together. Ill explain
why below. What is an electronic signature? An
electronic signature is a way of representing
your signature on a computerized document, for
example a delivery slip. The term electronic
signature can refer to several different methods
of capturing a signature on a document or device.
This includes methods such as using a tablet or
mobile app to capture an image of a handwritten
signature. It can also be simply typing your name
into a signature box. An example of a commonly
created electronic signature is when you sign for
a delivery on the couriers digital device. What
is a digital signature? A digital signature is
much more than an electronic signature.
  • Digital signatures become intrinsically linked to
    the content of the digital document using
  • Anyone digitally signing a document needs a
    digital certificate the certificate being unique
    to that individual. The certificate contains a
    public and a private key known as a key pair.
    Digital signature software works by performing
    these steps
  • The software creates a hash of the document
    content. Hashes are representations of the whole
    content, including images.
  • 2. The signatories certificate is then used to
    encrypt the hash. This combination of hashing and
    encryption creates an intrinsic connection
    between the document and the signatory digital
    signing in this way, ties the two together.
  • 3. The document hash is checked using the public
    key of the certificate to make sure it can be
    decrypted. It can only be decrypted if the users
    public key matches the private key used to
    encrypt the document.
  • 4. When the signature is checked using the
    digital signing software, the original document
    is hashed again and both the original and signed
    hash are crosschecked. If theres a difference
    between them, then the signature is invalidated.

  • Because a digital signature is effectively,
    wrapped up in the content of the document, it
    means that if anyone tries to change anything
    about that document content, the signature will
    also change. It effectively invalidates the
    signature and indicates that the document has
    been tampered with.
  • Whats the difference between a digital signature
    and an electronic signature?
  • The table below shows a quick, at-a-glance view
    of some of the key differences between digital
    signatures and electronic signatures
  • Digital Signature
  • Digital signatures are like a lock on a document.
    If the document changes after the signature is
    applied, it will show up as an invalidated
  • Digital signatures are very secure. Hashes cannot
    be easily undone and encryption using a digital
    certificate is highly secure. 
  • A digital signature is hard to deny. This is also
    known as non-repudiation. A digital signature is
    associated with an individuals private key of a
    digital certificate. This identifies them as
    being the signatory, as it is unique.

  • Digital signatures are nearly always time
    stamped. This is very useful in a court of law to
    tie a person to a signature at a specific day and
  • Digital signatures can hold logs of events,
    showing when each signature was applied. In
    advanced digital signature products like
    ApproveMe, this audit trail can even send out
    alerts if the log is tampered with. 
  • The digital certificates representing the
    individual signatories give details of the person
    signing the document, such as full name, email
    address and company name they are tied to the
    document signature through the certificate.
  • Electronic Signature
  • Electronic signatures are open to tampering.
  • Electronic signatures are not based on standards
    and tend to use proprietary methods so are
    intrinsically less secure.
  • Electronic signatures are much harder to verify.

  • Electronic signatures can have a time and date
    associated with the signature but it is held
    separate to the signature itself so is open to
  • Audit logs are not easily applied to electronic
  • If details of the person placing an electronic
    signature on a device or document are required,
    they have to be placed separately to the
    signature and are not held with the signature
    itself, therefore are more open to abuse.
  • What are digital signatures used for?
  • For these reasons, digital signatures hold up in
    a court of law far better than electronic
    signatures. It is much easier to prove who signed
    the document, when they signed and that their
    credentials were valid at the time of signing.
  • One of the really neat things about digital
    signatures is that they become an intrinsic part
    of a document lifecycle. So you can imagine that
    a legal document, like a contract, really
    benefits from utilizing digital signatures. You
    can create the contract, share it, agree it, add
    multiple signatories to it to finalize it and it
    will all be audited. You know, once it is signed,
    that it is set in stone. Any changes will show up
    in an invalidated signature and audit trail.
  • In a world of electronic documents, a digital
    signature is the natural way to sign, seal and
    deliver on a promise.

ApproveMes WP E-Signature utilizes propriary
digital signature technology to ensure that
documents, contracts and legal agreements that
are signed on your WordPress website adhere to
the strictest esign laws and regulations.   To
read more about the digital signature security
you can visit this helpful article about WP
eSignature security.   Or if you would like to
use your WordPress powered website to create,
send, and receive digital signatures on your
documents and contracts you can learn more about
WP E-Signature at   Article
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