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What is a digital signature?

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By Wikipedia’s definition, a digital signature is a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of digital messages or documents. A valid digital signature gives a recipient reason to believe that the message was created by a known sender, that the sender cannot deny having sent the message, and that the message was not altered in transit. But what does it mean for you or your business?

To put it in simple words, they are like an electronic fingerprint stating that you are the person signing a document. Though a fairly new concept, they have become common when signing documents online. This of course saves a lot of time for both you and your customers. There is no more need for printing, signing, scanning, and faxing or emailing back a document. Now, all can be done within minutes.

You may also hear the terms eSignature or Electronic Signature. A true digital signature is a type of eSignature that involves very specific technology, security measures, and protocol called PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). What makes a digital signature different is that it is truly unique to the person. It is assigned a specific encrypted number that is only assigned to the person and no one else.

How it works

You (or your customer) receive a document and a code called a private key. You sign the document using this private key and typing in your full name. The now executed document is sent back to the sender with a public key unique to you. If this truly comes from you, the public key will decrypt your signature proving it was indeed you who authorized the document.

These private and public key and the process itself can only be handled by a company specializing in this service like DocuSign. So this is not something you can ask your webmaster to do for you. You would register for the service and then offer it to your client. If you need your clients to sign documents quickly, that is a great option. Again, you would want to contact a company like DocuSign and select one of their plans that is best suited for your unique situation.


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Questions about this subject?

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