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Best Digital Signature Makers
Do you want to make sure that your documents are secure? Digital signatures offer a way for people to sign and verify digital documents. They provide the same level of security as traditional ink-and-paper signatures, but they can be used remotely and in electronic form.
Frequently Asked Questions on Digital Signature Makers
Digital signature vs. electronic signature: what’s the difference?
Electronic signature means any electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to a document or contract that a person executes with the intent to sign. In contrast, digital signature is defined as a type of electronic signature that uses encryption technology to verify a signed document or record’s authenticity.
Can you replace handwritten signatures with digital signatures?
This depends on the laws governing digital signatures in your country. In the United States, most business and commercial transactions recognize electronic and digital signatures. However, specific exceptions may still apply to particular use cases.
According to the ESIGN Act, the following use cases recognize electronic signatures but will still require handwritten signatures and paper contracts as standard:
Termination of health and life insurance benefits
Creation and execution of wills and trusts
Aspects of family law
Travel documentation for hazardous materials
Housing issues and property transfers
Do you need specific software for electronic signatures?
In most cases, using simple electronic signatures doesn’t require particular software to work. However, it’s safer for high-value transactions to get the service of legitimate digital signature providers to eliminate the risk of fraud, legal violations, and unauthorized access to confidential information.
If you’re unsure whether you need such a service, you can opt for a free trial. Some providers offer their digital signature service free for 30 days, which gives you enough time to explore certain products and services.
Can I sign using a mobile device?
Yes. Most digital signature services work seamlessly with web-enabled devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
What if a recipient refuses to sign online?
Is it possible to process payments within the app?
What is a digital signature and how does it work?
A digital signature acts as a person’s virtual fingerprint which legally associates a person to a document he or she signs in a recorded transaction. Additionally, a digital signature is designed to serve as one’s proof that a digital document remains unmodified from the time it was electronically signed.
As a standard rule, providers follow a specific protocol called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) which is responsible for how digital signature works in authenticating and securing data.
What is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)?
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a framework of standards or policies that secures communication between you and a server. Through a cryptographic system, providers generate keys: a public key and a private key. These two keys are related in such a way that they will only correspond to each other. Simply put, if the signer and the recipient’s keys match, it means the sender’s identity is authenticated, and the document has not been altered in any way.
How does a public key and private key differ?
Digital signatures use asymmetric encryption to secure critical data. This type of encryption requires two keys: one key for encryption and a second key for decryption. A certificate authority issues the private-public pair of keys using the public key infrastructure framework.
A public key can be shared with everyone. On the other hand, a corresponding private key is given to the owner. The private key should be kept secret to maintain its integrity. Both keys can encrypt information, but only the corresponding key will be able to decode it.
What types of documents can be digitally signed?
Most providers support different file type formats for signing documents. You can apply your digital signature in word documents, spreadsheets, slides, and other file types. Although there are some providers that prefer using digital signatures in pdf format, they usually have a conversion feature to prepare the documents for you.
Aside from supporting a broad range of file types, digital signatures can also be integrated into existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, browsers, and other business tools and systems.
What is a digital certificate?
A digital certificate is issued by a trusted third party known as a Certificate Authority (CA), which validates the identity of the person or company associated with a particular public and private key. It also provides the recipients with the public key as the means to encode a reply back to the sender.
The certificate contains relevant information about the organization or individual, such as the public key, encryption algorithm used, the issuing CA’s digital signature, and the validity period of the said certificate.
Are digital signature certificates categorized?
Yes. Digital signature certificates fall under two categories: class and type.
The three types of digital signature certificates are:
Sign a digital signature certificate
This certificate can only be used for signing documents (e.g., signing Tax Returns). It guarantees the signer’s identity and the integrity of the data.
Encrypt digital signature certificate
Encrypt digital certificate is only used to encrypt documents with classified information (e.g., legal documentation, e-commerce).
Sign and Encrypt digital certificate
It is used for signing and encrypting documents. Using this certificate maintains the confidentiality of the shared information (e.g., filing government applications).
While the three classes of a digital signature certificate are:
Class 1 Certificate
This certificate is issued for individual or private use only. This type confirms that your name and email address in the certificate is not in conflict with the information within the Certifying Authority database.
Class 2 Certificate
This certificate is issued for business and individual subscribers. It authenticates the signer’s identity and reaffirms that the information provided matches those in a well-recognized consumer database.
This is the safest of all certificates. This type of certificate is primarily used for e-commerce applications or other high-value transactions where large amounts of money or classified information are involved. Individuals who want to register for this certificate are required to appear before the Certifying Authorities personally.
Which countries recognize the use of digital signatures?
Signing documents electronically is quite common anywhere due to technological advancements. In fact, about 60 countries have passed laws to legalize electronic and digital signatures. Below are some countries with e-signature laws in effect:
The United States of America
The Isle of Man
What information can I get from audit trails?
Standard information collected by audit trails include:
Names and email addresses of signatories
Date and time when a document was sent, opened and signed
Distinct signing identifiers
Sent emails and notifications