E-signature vs digital signature

E-signature vs digital signature have differences that determine whether you choose one or the other to sign digital documents. Both...
23 April 2024

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E-signature vs digital signature

E-signature vs digital signature have differences that determine whether you choose one or the other to sign digital documents.

Both solutions can be used in similar cases to identify a person with a signature, such as physical signatures that guarantee the agreement between parties to a contract.

However, these two models of remote signatures differ in aspects such as their accessibility, legality or level of security. 

Electronic signatures vs digital signatures are not part of the future, but part of an increasingly digitized present. Read on to learn about the differences

E-signature vs digital signature

Are e-signatures and digital signatures the same?

Electronic signatures and digital signatures are not the same, although they can be used in some similar contexts

In the age of digitalization, both signature models offer great advantages such as speed, convenience, immediacy and accessibility

The fact that a document can be signed from anywhere and at any time offers great convenience to individuals and companies, saving time when traveling, for example. 

Thanks to this type of signature, it is no longer necessary to print out a document to be emailed, sign it and then scan it in order to resend it.

However, as we have just announced, it is necessary to confront the e-signature vs digital signature through their differences so that you can choose the option that best suits your personal or business needs.

E-signature vs digital signature: 7 differences

In the following points, we will delve into the 7 most important differences between e-signature and digital signature, starting with their definitions. 

Definition

Both electronic signature and digital signature are alternatives to physical signatures on documents. 

However, you need to know their definition to understand their differences.

Electronic signature

An electronic signature is a trace that is digitally captured and added to a document. 

According to the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, it can consist of a sound, symbol, or electronic process that translates a person’s intent to sign a document, i.e., it is capable of identifying the author of the signature.

Thus, an electronic signature is often used to sign contracts and other agreements, in most cases using third-party applications that offer some resources that increase the security of the exchange.

Are e-signatures and digital signatures the same?

Digital signature

A digital signature is a tool that uniquely and securely associates a signature with a person or entity and is supported by a digital certificate with legal validity.

A digital signature acts like a digital fingerprint and provides additional verification through cryptographic techniques. 

This type of signature is used for high-value transactions, such as financial transactions and the exchange of confidential information, because it makes it possible to detect document manipulation and falsifications after the signature has been applied. 

Purpose

In most cases, you can use both signature models in legally binding agreements. 

The electronic signature clearly states that the parties actively and knowingly entered into a contract. 

However, digital signatures are more secure because they ensure that a document has not been forged, altered or tampered with. 

For this reason, they are used to sign government or financial documents, i.e. documents of a critical nature for the parties involved.


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Technology used to create them

E-signature can be created using applications such as Word, PDF or image editing softwares. 

Once created, it can be added to a document manually using an electronic device such as a computer, smartphone or tablet. 

Another option is to use special applications that you install on your device that allow you to sign any document using a digital pen or your finger. 

As for the digital signature, its creation is linked to a digital certificate created through a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). 

This system consists of a set of processes, software and hardware that transfer data securely by generating a public and a private key.

Legality

In the United States, electronic signatures have the same federal and state legal validity as handwritten signatures, as long as they meet certain security and information integrity requirements.

However, digital signatures ensure that you comply with applicable regulations by having a digital certificate that must be issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP). 

E-signature vs digital signature: 7 differences

Accessibility and ease of use

Unlike digital signatures, which require the installation of an application and an active certificate managed by a PKI, electronic signatures are more accessible and easier to use and deploy.

Information integrity

One of the most important aspects of digital signature vs e-signature is that the operation of the former makes it possible to ensure that a signed document is genuine, i.e., that it has not been altered or forged. 

This factor is key to data integrity and digital trust in digital projects. 

Security

For all the reasons given in this article, we can conclude that digital signatures generally provide a higher level of security than electronic signatures. 

It is also true that depending on the type of e-signature you use, you can enjoy different levels of security, some of which are more vulnerable to fraud and falsification.

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