Digital Signature VS Electronic Signature


    What is a digital signature and how does it work?

    In the form of a coded message, a digital signature securely links a signer to a document in a recorded transaction. Digital signatures employ a standardized and widely accepted format known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to ensure the utmost levels of security and universal acceptance. PKI entails the use of a digital certificate for identity verification.

    How do digital signature works?

    Digital signatures, similar to handwritten signatures, are unique to each signer. Providers of digital signature solutions, such as InfoCert, adhere to a specific protocol known as Public Key Infrastructure, or PKI. PKI mandates that the provider utilizes a mathematical algorithm to generate two long numbers, referred to as keys. One key is public, and the other is private.


    When a signer electronically signs a document, the signature is formed using the signer’s private key, which is securely held by the signer. The mathematical algorithm functions as a cipher, creating data that matches the signed document, known as a hash, and encrypting that data. The resulting encrypted data constitutes the digital signature. Additionally, the signature is timestamped with the time of document signing. If the document undergoes changes after signing, the digital signature becomes invalid.


    For instance, John signs an agreement to sell a timeshare using her private key. The buyer receives the document along with a copy of John’s public key. If the public key cannot decrypt the signature (via the cipher used to generate the keys), it indicates that the signature either does not belong to John or has been altered since it was signed. In such cases, the signature is deemed invalid.

    To uphold the integrity of the signature, PKI mandates that the keys be created, managed, and stored securely. This often involves the services of a reputable Certificate Authority (CA). Digital signature providers, like InfoCert, comply with PKI requirements to ensure secure digital signing.

    What’s the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature?

    A digital signature is a form of electronic signature that demands a higher level of identity verification through digital certificates.


    The broader category of electronic signatures (e-signatures) encompasses various types of electronic signatures. This category includes digital signatures, which represent a specific technological implementation of electronic signatures. Both digital signatures and other e-signature solutions enable the signing of documents and authentication of the signer. However, distinctions exist in terms of purpose, technical implementation, geographical usage, and the legal and cultural acceptance of digital signatures compared to other types of e-signatures.


    Notably, the utilization of digital signature technology for e-signatures varies significantly between countries following open, technology-neutral e-signature laws, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, and those adopting tiered eSignature models favoring locally defined standards based on digital signature technology. This includes many countries in the European Union, South America, and Asia. In the European Union, governed by the eIDAS regulation, two levels of digital signatures exist: Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) and Qualified Electronic Signature (QES).

    Furthermore, certain industries also endorse specific standards rooted in digital signature technology

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