Digital signatures are not just the binary version of a scanned hand-marked signature. Digital signatures use cryptographic encryption techniques for secure communication. They are based on public-key encryption (PKI) and can also be formed using a Hashing algorithm. It uses three fundamental operations, viz.:
- Key Generation: The sender generates a public key and a private key.
- Signing: Using the private key and document to be signed, the sender generates the data for signature.
- Verification: The receiver can verify using the document, public key, and digital signature.
A public key system or PKI(Public Key Infrastructure) is used to distribute public keys securely. The mechanism for digital signature uses a certifying authority or CA, which certifies the signers. In this way, the signer’s public key is used with the trust of the CA for verifying digital signatures.
In this guide, we will discuss the top ten benefits of using a digital signature. Let us see them one by one:
- Document Confidentiality: Managing and storing signed physical documents is a difficult task as they are prone to be tampered with for various reasons like being stolen, destroyed by fire (intentionally or accidentally), or any other reason. Thus, they are prone to be tampered with and eventually leading to loss of confidentiality. Digital documents are safe from such risks if they are properly signed and back up.
- Business Reputation: People feel security when they deal with businesses using digitally signed documents. Thus it improves customer’s experience and enhances the reputation and market value of an organization. From the customer end, using signed documents is just like visiting a website with the https protocol instead of http. Another advantage of using digital signatures is that customers are assured that the organization they are dealing with is equipped with the latest technology in their workflow.
- Time management: Time is like gold if it is cared for, especially in business. It takes very little time to get a document signed with a digital signature compared to the manual signing process, which may take days. Documents can be signed easily, and the saved time can be put to other business activities and important works. Digital signatures also provide a timestamping feature that ensures non-repudiation. Another benefit is that documents can be signed from anywhere in the world. This eliminates the need to be present physically, thus saving time and travel expenses.
- Alternative Option: Handwritten signatures change patterns with the aging of a person. In some cases, like hand injury, paralysis, etc., a person is void of making a hand gesture; in such cases, a digital signature is a good alternative.
- Performance Upgrade: Organizations benefit hugely in speed, performance, and efficiency by using digital signatures. In turn, this also increases customer satisfaction and retention.
- Prevention of fraud: Digital signature eradicates the way people commit fraud by impersonating the handwritten signature of an unknown person. Any person skilled at forging others’ physical signatures can easily obtain the victim’s signature from various sources and exploit it for self profit. The use of Public Key Infrastructure standards completely eliminates the risk of any such type of forgery.
- Legal Validity: Digital signatures also add in providing legal assurance for customers. They have legal recognition because digitally signed documents can be presented for court proceedings to provide evidence and support for further investigation. Many countries around the world have developed and adopted laws for digital signatures.
- Money savings.: With digital signatures, the money-consuming process for printing, mailing, and storing documents is unnecessary. Traveling expenses are also cut when a person can sign a document remotely without meeting in person.
- Eco-Friendly Approach: Being eco-friendly, digital documents and digital signatures can save a lot of paper, fuel, and power, thus reducing carbon emissions.
- Automated Process: The signing process can be automated with the use of several software. Links can be shared for digital signing with automated emails and SMS.
- Audit trails: Documents that are digitally signed can be traced back to their owner. This is particularly helpful for businesses to establish transparency.
With the dramatic rise in digital technologies, more and more businesses create, store, and transmit information in electronic form. This ongoing pattern has raised concern for securing online transactions from emerging threats. Digital signatures have hugely simplified this problem by introducing a cryptography-based document signing process. A digital signature is a modern way of recognizing and authenticating people, documents, messages, etc.