It seems like a silly question, yet many people don’t realise they choose the equivalent of a pencil every time they sign electronically, or worse.
With a growing problem of electronic signatures that are easily erased, edited or even copied onto other documents without authorization, many people are open to a whole range of potential risks, putting their entire documents integrity in jeopardy without realising it.
This may be because for the longest time, the appearance and form of your signature was the only thing identifying it as yours, and this mindset seems to have carried into the digital age when there are many more things to consider in authenticating your identity electronically.
In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that when using a proper digital signature, how the signature appears is pretty trivial in its role, with the numerous cryptographic processes doing more to prove your identity than the signature alone ever could. And on top of that, sealing your document to prevent further change and ensure document integrity.
To give a more tangible comparison, this mindset is the same as thinking that just closing the front door to your house is as good as locking it, as people will assume it’s locked.
Sure, this may be true for the vast majority of people, but it only takes one bad actor to try. Which is what most people understand and why we lock our front doors.
It’s also important to consider that signing with digital signatures is also good for other parties in an agreement as by sealing the document and preventing further changes you demonstrate your intention to honour the agreement and can be trusted in your dealings.
So why do people still use these ‘electronic pencils’ when better alternatives are readily available?
Mostly it boils down to the old adage ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, with many simply taking what signature providers say at face value and not realising what to really look for in a digital signature.
This combined with the countless workflow features that typically come with electronic signing solutions, mean the value gained is not strictly due to the reliability of the signing technology but also the utility of supporting features, that can revolutionise how a business functions.
However, the foundation of any signing provider is the quality of their signatures, and without robust processes that ensure these signatures authenticate the signee and seal the document, every one of them is vulnerable to manipulation, and all the workflow features in the world won’t get your document integrity back.
Fortunately it’s pretty easy to see if your signature is doing what it should, and all you need to do is look closer…. Can you
Edit the document?
Copy your signature?
Is there any way to validate your signature?
These are the questions to ask when trying to find out if a signature is worth using.