What is a Digital Signature?

  • A digital signature (standard electronic signature) is a type of electronic signature that provides highest level of security and acceptance. It takes the concept of traditional paper-based signing and turns it into an electronic “fingerprint.” This “fingerprint,” or coded message, is unique to both the document and the signer and binds them together.
  • Digital signatures ensure the authenticity of the signer. Any changes made to the document after it has been signed invalidate the signature, thereby protecting against signature forgery and information tampering. As such, digital signatures help organizations sustain signer authenticity, accountability, data integrity and the non-repudiation of signed electronic documents and forms.
  • The digital signature cannot be copied, tampered with or altered. In addition, because digital signatures are based on standard PKI technology, they can be validated by anyone without the need for proprietary verification software.
  •  On the other hand, an electronic signature is a proprietary format (there is no standard for electronic signatures) that may be a digitized image of a handwritten signature, a symbol, voiceprint, etc., used to identify the author(s) of an electronic message. An electronic signature is vulnerable to copying and tampering, and invites forgery. In many cases, electronic signatures are not legally binding and will require proprietary software to validate the e-signature.