The difference between digital and electronic signatures is simple, yet growingly important as we head into the future. But perhaps you might be asking, what is a digital or electronic signature? And why does it matter?
To understand digital and electronic signatures let’s begin with a signature that you and even your grandma are familiar with. The “Wet” of a wet signature refers to the wet ink that is used from your pen, when writing your handwritten signature. Or depending on your age, and if there were dinosaurs, a quill. Your amazing, awesome, cool handwriting was the traditional way to authenticate your agreement to a document. Wet signatures have been used from the days of Moses, to the signing of the declaration of independence, all the way to your birth certificate. How cool.
In a pre-digital world wet signatures were the sole backbone to authenticate all business agreements. And even now they often are used. Recently I had to sign some papers with pen and ink starting my new job at a restaurant. But as business began to move online a new way to prove agreement and authentication had to arise. Otherwise business within the internet would always be limited by sending documents through mail or meeting in person
This is why digital and electronic signatures are and will continue to be so important, they are the future of how any transaction is agreed upon.
E-signature, E-sigs, electronic signatures are easy, cool, convenient, but not as secure as compared to digital signatures. Here’s a few examples that you are probably familiar with.
- Signing a tablet when making a purchase at a register
- Using your Pin Code at an ATM or card reader
- Agreeing to the terms of an online purchase or subscription
- Scanning, or taking a photo of your wet signature
- Signing for a package delivery from a courier’s device
Without E-signatures, the possibilities of interconnectedness in a global internet marketplace, and the future of remote work would look pretty dim. But perhaps most importantly without electronic signatures you would never be able to get those dinosaur themed pajamas with amazon 2-day shipping. Or maybe that’s just me, they are very comfortable.
While an e-signature verifies the signee of a document, a digital signature verifies the authenticity of the document itself. This added layer of security allows for verifiability removing any chance of doubt. With a digital signature if an e-sig or something about the document is tampered with the document can be proven invalid.
Digital signatures are somewhat of a fingerprint type lock on a document. They create from a combination of digital certificates, hashes, keys, and encryption, a unique authentication factor embedded into a document. Security is the digital signature’s purpose, and as cyber-security becomes more of a pressing issue digital signatures will fair to be extremely helpful in protecting important information.