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What is Electronic Signature?

INDEX

    What is an Electronic Signature?

    The electronic signature is a fundamental tool for the dematerialisation of business processes that allows a considerable streamlining of the management of relations with the public administration, companies and private citizens. 

     

    The Digital Signature is the tool that allows documents to be signed directly from a PC or smartphone with the same legal value as a traditional handwritten signature. It is a fast and effective solution that promotes the process of dematerialisation of documents. 

     

    The digital signature is based on three fundamental characteristics, it is able to guarantee 

     

    • the authenticity of the document 
    • the authorship of the signatory of the document 
    • the integrity of the document 

    As with a paper signature, whoever signs a document digitally assumes responsibility for its content, which from that moment on becomes unchangeable. At the same time, the originality of the document itself is also certified. 

     

    Thanks to the requirements of digital signatures, professionals, companies and private citizens can use this tool to sign contracts, budgets, administrative and judicial documents in few seconds, without printing and without paper. 

    How many types of Electronic Signature exist?

    It‘s easy to get confused between the concepts of electronic signature and digital signature, which are often mistakenly used as synonyms. In reality, the digital signature is only one of the available electronic signatures and specifically represents the most advanced form of these, the one with the highest legal value.  Here we discover four types of electronic signature, each with specific characteristics and value: 

    1. Electronic signature (simple): lacking the guarantees of paternity and integrity of the document, it represents the weakest form of signature in the IT field. It takes on the value of a mere signature instrument. This includes, for example, logging in using a username and password. The low legal value clearly emerges in the event that we wish to identify with absolute certainty the person who has logged in with certain credentials. In the face of these limitations, InfoCert recommends using the GoSign web application, which keeps track of the entire process behind the simple electronic signature, including the recipient’s willingness to sign the document: the recipient will receive a code via email/sms that he or she must confirm when signing. GoSign also generates a summary report of all steps tracked. 
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    3. Advanced electronic signature: as its name suggests, compared to the simple electronic signature, this type of signature provides a higher degree of protection and security. It presupposes the prior identification of the signatory by means of an acknowledgement that can take place either de visu or remotely by means of audio and/or video recording tools made in compliance with the regulations in force. 
    4.    
    5. Qualified electronic signature: this is one of the most advanced forms of electronic signature and is characterised by a certification attesting to the identity of the signatory and the originality and integrity of the signed documents. 
    6. Compared to the previous ones, this signature is based on a signature certificate issued by an authority guaranteeing the authenticity of the signatory and the absence of changes to the document after signing.       

    7. Digital signature: this is by far the most advanced form of electronic signature. It makes use of a digital signature kit consisting of:   

      a signature certificate with a validity of 3 years issued by a certification body that identifies and certifies with certainty the identity of the signature holder 
      a PIN known only to the signatory.   

      With the PIN, a further step is added to strengthen the entire signing process, a step that can only and exclusively be performed by the holder.   

      As mentioned above, the legal value of the digital signature is maximised, which results in a reversal of the burden of proof, in other words, in the event of a court case, it will be up to the signatory to prove or deny the validity of the signature.   

      InfoCert QES certificates belong to this category and therefore have the highest legal value. 

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