Cybersecurity and E-signature: What You Need to Know

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford, on his innovations in automobile manufacturing.

Cybersecurity and electronic signatures. How do you know if electronic signatures are secure? Many customers have concerns and questions about cybersecurity for electronic signatures. The debate on the safety of e-signature versus a traditional pen-and-paper signature is a perfect example of a user's concerns. It’s easy to worry about cybersecurity and e-signatures while overlooking flaws in the analogue option. The truth is that electronic signatures can be more secure than paper and ink. Here’s everything you need to know about e-signatures and cybersecurity.

Security risks of paper signatures

Before digital alternatives, pen-and-paper signatures were the most secure option. Ideally, you would have a witness to the signing to verify the signer’s identity. If the signature’s authenticity ever came into doubt, a signature forensics expert could verify it. What’s more, the paper copy could be stored for an indefinite time; we have signed documents that are centuries old.

If you have a home office, you know the risks of paper signatures: children, dogs, spilt coffee, unruly filing cabinets, the vacuum cleaner, and gusts of wind. It's risky business to sign paper documents even in the comfort of your own home. And, of course, paper signatures are vulnerable to fire, flood and other natural disasters. You can solve that problem by making copies, but that introduces another opportunity for tampering. Or you could scan all the documents into a computer system — but then they’re just e-signatures without the additional security an e-signature platform provides.

Cybersecurity and e-signatures

E-signatures can be more secure than their paper counterparts.

Electronic signatures have many layers of security and authentication built into them, along with court-admissible proof of transaction:

  • Electronic record: Unlike wet signatures, e-signatures also come with an electronic record that serves as an audit trail and evidence of the transaction. The audit trail includes the history of actions taken with the document, including the details of when it was opened, viewed and signed. If one of the signers disputes their signature, or if there’s any question about the transaction, this audit trail is available to all participants in the transaction and can help resolve such objections.
  • Certificates of completion: Detailed certificates of completion can include specific details about each signer on the document, including the consumer disclosure indicating the signer agreed to use e-signature, the signature image, key event timestamps and the signer's IP address and other identifying information.
  • Tamper-evident seal: Once the signing process is complete, all documents are digitally sealed using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), an industry-standard technology. This seal indicates the electronic signature is valid and that the document hasn’t been tampered with or altered since the date of signing.

The right e-signature solution should be able to provide all of the above. In addition, they should have certifications from neutral third parties that prove their claims. The ISO 27001:2013 certification is the highest level of global security assurance available.

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Types of documents that can be signed electronically

Virtually any business agreement that can be signed with a pen and paper can be an e-signature document:

  • Purchase agreements
  • Employment contracts and offer letters
  • Power of attorney forms
  • Rental agreement forms
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Tax forms
  • Proposals
  • Statements of work template

And many more.

In the EU and the UK, there are laws that give electronic signatures the same validity as wet ink signatures in most cases. England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have legally recognised electronic signatures since 2002. Then following the introduction of the eIDAS Regulations in 2016, eSignature can help you to collect electronic signatures in a safe and compliant manner.

Choose a platform you can trust

Docusign is trusted by over 1 million customers in countries around the world. Docusign has been used by over 1 billion users for things that mean the world to them like new job offers, college applications, new car rental leases, home purchasing or, new business deals. Docusign offers secure e-signatures. From drafting the agreement to signature to storage, Docusign has you covered.

What type of documents can be signed online securely?

Electronic signatures are secure and legally valid, and in the EU and the UK, there are laws that give electronic signatures the same validity as wet ink signatures for most documents. So you can sign most documents online securely, including employment contracts, sales contracts, rental agreements, statements of work, employee letters and more.

Electronic signatures and cybersecurity - how safe are electronic signatures?

Electronic signatures are safer than wet signatures because they have many layers of security and authentication built into them. Electronic signatures come with electronic records that serve as an audit trail, certificates of completion and a tamper-evident seal. Find out more about electronic signature security.

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