The Online Digital Signature Way

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July 21, 2011

Ever wondered if it’s legally binding to sign your business documents online?

A brief history first. Early Roman law recognised the amalgamation of seals and signatures as a principal for the authentication and legality of documents. Centuries later (mid-nineteenth century), the Morse Code and telegraph were recognised as the first legal ‘electronic’ signatures. The following century (1976) saw Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman lead the way to implement the legal equivalent to a written signature using cryptographic method; and then in 1996, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law published the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce with Guide to Enactment that influenced the development of electronic signature laws internationally.  

Since that time, around the world, different laws have been passed that guarantee the legal authority and enforcement of electronic signatures: Uniform Electronic Transactions Acts (UETA), Electronic Signatures In Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), FDA 21CFR Part 11, EU Directive for Electronic Signatures, Electronic Transactions Acts in different countries, and many others.Digital Signature Legality

The legal specification for a signature is fulfilled by means of an electronic signature if the signature:

  • Appropriately identifies the signatory
  • Appropriately indicates the signatory’s authorisation of the information to which the signature relates; and (Intent)
  • Is as reliable as is appropriate given the occurrence

An electronic signature is adequately reliable if the means of creating the signature is connected to the person who signs the document, is under their control and no one else’s, and if the system can detect any changes made to the document and signature.

It is imperative to highlight that although the term used in all acts is ‘electronic signature’, the ‘digital signature’ is a sub group within electronic signatures that uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) — the only technology that ensures non-forgeable signatures. Secured Signing’s user-based PKI digital signature application provides the highest form of digital signature, and content that guarantees signer authenticity, data integrity, and non-repudiation of signed documents and transactions. If the document is altered, signatures immediately become invalid. 

“We are confident that the systems used by Secured Signing ensure that the electronic signatures produced meet the legal requirements for a signature. In fact, the security and logging facility, in our view, provides better authenticity than many of the methods by which documents are now commonly signed and exchanged (e.g. e-mail and facsimile). So, unless there are specific laws dictating that a document can only be signed in a particular way (as far as we are aware, the only common law which does this relates to wills), any form of contract can be signed using the Secured Signing System.” Rick Shera / Angela Beros , Partner / Solicitor, LOWNDES JORDAN, Barristers & Solicitors

Till next time,

Cheers, John


June 28, 2011

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice from many alternatives.” William A Foster 

The above is true whether we are describing the quality or performance of a leading digital signature service, the latest elite car design, or the flagship model of a bike. It is all about the reality we offer to our customers!

Measurement of technical performance of a service or product could include different factors. In today’s discussion, I choose to focus on the following qualities:       

Digital Signature quality is guarnteed

Accuracy – to ensure that information provided to customers is appropriate and correct. The digital signature service provides clear and accurate documentation to its customers, and the user-based PKI technology certifies signatory’s authenticity and data integrity.

Availability – the probability that the service will be accessible and functioning at all times. A user can access the digital signature service from anywhere in the world, at any time. They can sign and invite others to sign, add documents, create signing workflow, view and monitor the signing process, and verify archived signed documents either offline on their desktop, or regularly online at the free Verification Service.       

Efficiency – the service requires less input to produce more output. Signing documents online stops the Print – Sign – Scan – Deliver – Storage process. It saves time, cuts operational costs, reduces the contract signing process from days to seconds, increases customer satisfaction, and frees staff, budget, and other resources for the core business.      

Latency – the amount of time it takes to respond to a given input. The registration and actual signing process of a document takes seconds. The Broadcasting feature (send to mass invitee list using xls, xlsx, or csv file format), and the multi-page signing feature are examples of the innovative technical components that allow the signing of hundreds of pages, or an invitation to even hundreds of people to sign with just the click of a mouse.       

Back to my title, the performance evaluations below could equally apply to any of the three that are mentioned as they refer to the same levels of quality and satisfaction:

“It provides a combination of performance, comfort, and everyday drivability that would have seemed impossible 10 years ago.”

Michael Austin, review of 2012 Ferrari FF, Car and Driver Magazine, June 2011     

“A desire to come back to that same bike each day will depend on the post-ride experience. ‘I felt fresh’ means you are likely to follow your programme and not skip days because you are exhausted from a bike which doesn’t match your needs. ..the biggest performance gains are not purchased in a store but products can help get you on the road, to the place where they’re earned.”

Alex Malone, review of Arctec R, Ride Cycling Review, June 2011

Till next time,

Cheers, John


June 21, 2011

All too often I read articles that use the terms digital signatures or electronic signatures as if they were the same thing — which they are not. It will be useful to briefly point out and clarify the significant differences between the two terms for ease of future discussions.   

Digital Signature is the only choice

The term electronic signatures relates to any type of electronic data.The US Code defines the electronic signature as any electronic process, sound, or even symbol that is added to a document and relates to a person.  Although they are easy to implement (something as simple as a typed name can serve as one), electronic signatures are vulnerable to forgery and tampering as there is nothing to prevent one individual from typing another individual’s name. Unless the electronic signatures incorporate additional measures of security, they are considered an insecure way to sign documents.

The digital signature belongs to a sub-group within the electronic signatures category; it applies cryptographic operations and uses scientifically founded technology for the highest level of security.The idea of digital signatures originated from Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman’s seminal paper New Directions in Cryptography (1976). In this paper, they discussed theories of communication and computation in relation to cryptographic issues, suggested ways to minimise the need for a secure key distribution channel, and implemented the equivalent to a written signature.    

Years later, the new class of encryption algorithms evolved into digital signature user-based PKI technology that provides each user with an exclusive signing key (digital ID) which is unique to both the document and the signatory, and accessible only to that user. The signed document is sealed, and any changes made to the document after it is signed invalidate the signature. This secure implementation, therefore, certifies the signatory’s authenticity, accountability, data integrity, and establishes a basis for non-repudiation of documents and transactions. 

Till next time,

Cheers, John


June 15, 2011


Cloud computing increasingly becomes a prevalent IT solution in a variety of markets. According to a recent study done by the application-integration/app-hosting company Hubspan, more than 60 percent of companies surveyed said cloud computing was their strategic direction. Forrester report (April, 2011) emphasized this trend with the prediction that the cloud computing global market will grow from $40.7 billion to more than $241 billion by 2020.  Overcoming challenges with digital signature


Signing documents in the cloud firmly reflects this inevitable business shift with the flagship of digital signatures technology that offers significant benefits to users from different types of business and industry. This technological change brings with it certain technical, behavioural, and even emotional challenges. The following will demonstrate how Secured Signing’s User Based digital signatures advanced technology meets them. 


Change of Business Processes 

  • Changes how managers think about their businesses and coordinate tasks and people.
  • Gives business-unit leaders and end users a greater role in obtaining and managing technology for themselves and changes the role of IT professionals.
  • Changes business operations – Secured Signing’s users’ testimonials highlight the shortened response time, improved efficiency, enhanced cost effectiveness, and the paperless environment  


Document Security and Verification 


Every business and company is very conscious of security when sending out sensitive documents for signing or other purposes. They want to protect their communications and control and track signed documents. Secured Signing’s digital signature User-based PKI service provides each user with a unique signing key (digital ID) that is accessible only to that user. The signed document is sealed and any changes made to a document will invalidate the signatures. The digital signatures engine stores the signing keys (Private Keys) in a centralised and secure hardware device.


In addition, Secured Signing is the only online signing service that gives users the ability to verify signatures (including all signatories’ digital signature details) at their desktop offline without any link to Secured Signing’s website, or at the Secured Signing free Verification Service. For long-time archiving, a user can keep the PDF document and verify it on his desktop or online at anytime.     




There are some important legal issues of concern to business owners and users who wish to sign documents in the cloud. Meeting global legal requirements and the reliability of technology and service are the primary ones.  

Digital signature technology is the only one that uses the following industry standards of cryptography that observe worldwide legal requirements: 

  • Signatures are created under sole control of the signatory
  • Identification of signatory is provided
  • There is a link between the signature and signatory
  • Change detection for document and signatures   

Secured Signing’s user -based digital signature online service complies with ESIGN, UETA, and worldwide Electronic Transactions Acts, and exceeds their comprehensive legal requirements               




In today’s competitive environment, the benefits of this highly scalable technology are too attractive to ignore. However, trust seems to be on everyone’s mind: the customers who have a concern with security, control, and data ownership, and the cloud computing services who work hard and present new advanced solutions to gain it. In a recent University of Cambridge article, “Trust on the wild web” (March, 2011), Tom Simpson said “Trusting provides us with goods beyond those that come with cooperation; but again, for these goods to materialize, the trust must be justified.”  And the services described above – do just that. 


Till next time,  


Cheers, John


Welcome to our blog!  


June 8, 2011


I'm John, the online digital signature service specialist at Secured Signing, the world’s leading provider of User-based PKI Digital Signature SaaS service.  


My colleagues and I decided to create this blog to share our expertise, experiences, and learning in this field with you. This up-beat Online Digital Signature Service blog will also monitor and report on the latest related research, articles, case studies, and papers from around the globe.  Welcome to the Secured Signing Blog


In today’s competitive business environment, it’s not just about receiving the latest professional information, it’s about understanding how to implement it to benefit your own work environment.  


I personally invite you to join our exciting journey, to ask questions, and share your thoughts with us. 


"Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach." (Aristotle)


I’m looking forward to having you onboard,


Cheers, John.