Many industries today rely on digital signatures as opposed to handwritten ones. They recognize the importance of efficiency in their daily operations and understand the time wasted while waiting for a traditional signature is money lost. Manually signing a document can extend the time needed to complete a transaction by days or weeks. Furthermore, the conventional signature process uses valuable resources that can be better employed in other ways.
Many business owners have expressed interest in moving to electronic signatures but are unsure of how to find a secure digital signature solution. They need a solution that cuts costs, increases efficiency, and saves time while eliminating delays. However, if the solution doesn’t improve customer service while ensuring the business remains in compliance with all rules, regulations, and laws, it won’t be of help. What should a company look for when making this important choice?
Real-Time Independent Identity Authentication
To authenticate a signature, the solution needs to provide a private encryption key. With this key, the receiver can determine the source of the message and verify the sender’s identity. Digital signatures differ from electronic signatures in that they come with a robust verification process. Electronic signatures may be nothing more than a virtual mark that demonstrates the other party’s approval.
How can a receiver ensure the document signer won’t claim in the future that they didn’t digitally sign a document? A person might claim their account was hacked and someone else signed the document without their knowledge and permission. With a physical signature, a person can request witnesses be present during the signing. They can then testify to the authenticity of the signature. Key storage is one way to ensure a digital signature cannot be repudiated in the future, and companies will find many other non-repudiation features offered. They must determine which option they feel most comfortable with.
Every digital signature solution considered needs to come with a reputable certificate authority. In addition, users must be able to protect the personal certificate information to ensure it isn’t lost or used inappropriately.
Time Stamp Authority
Digital signatures need to come with a trusted time stamp. This stamp demonstrates the integrity of the data and lets all parties know when the transaction was completed. The recipient of the document can determine when the document was signed and that it wasn’t altered at any time after the signing.
A company must ensure the selected solution works with existing software applications. If the solution won’t easily integrate with these applications, the purchaser won’t receive the full benefits of the program. Furthermore, individuals who may be asked to provide a digital signature should not be required to purchase and maintain several technologies.
Every company making use of digital signature technology should conduct a risk assessment and create a risk management plan based on the risks identified during the process. Furthermore, every employee making use of the program must know of this plan and refer to it when necessary.
Each company must determine which criteria they feel are most importance when choosing digital signature technology. While researching various programs, they need to ensure the program fulfills the identified criteria. Furthermore, the criteria should focus on legal concerns, as a digital signature is of most benefit when it can be legally used for evidentiary purposes. However, don’t neglect other factors when making this decision, as all need to work together to provide the best solution for the company.
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