With the rapid advancement of digital technologies, our approach to business transactions has seen significant changes. One such transformation comes in the form of the electronic signature, a tool that allows us to legally validate contracts and documents online. For those new to this concept, let’s dive into the details and explore the various levels of security offered by electronic signatures to ensure the integrity and authenticity of transactions.
What is an electronic signature?
An electronic signature serves as a secure and legally recognized alternative to the traditional handwritten signatures to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation of signed documents. Unlike a simple scanned image, an electronic signature is far more than a graphical representation. It relies on advanced cryptographic technologies that create unique data for each signer, offering a significantly higher level of security.
Exploring the security levels of electronic signatures
Simple electronic signature (SES):
The simple electronic signature is the most basic level of security used by many online services. It involves adding a digital signature to a document, often in the form of an image or text, to represent the signer’s handwritten signature. While this method is convenient, it comes with vulnerabilities in terms of falsification and non-repudiation, which could compromise transaction integrity and legal recognition.
This level is suitable for transactions with low legal and financial impact.
Advanced electronic signature (AES):
The advanced electronic signature takes security to a higher level compared to the simple electronic signature. It relies on digital certificates issued by recognized certification authorities to authenticate the signer’s identity. These certificates ensure the integrity of signed data and provide robust legal evidence in case of disputes. Moreover, the advanced electronic signature strengthens non-repudiation as it is uniquely linked to the signer’s identity.
This level is suitable for more significant transactions, such as higher-value contracts or handling sensitive corporate documents.
Qualified electronic signature (QES):
At the peak of security lies the qualified electronic signature, which is the most reliable level for electronic transactions. Governed by strict regulations like the European Union’s eIDAS Regulation, it holds legal validity in member countries. Qualified electronic signatures rely on qualified digital certificates issued by authorized trust service providers, offering maximum security. It is commonly used for sensitive transactions like legally binding contracts and exchanges with public authorities, especially for authentic acts performed by bailiffs, notaries, or commercial court clerks.
Discover how electronic signatures can benefit your business
Download our ebook
Also to be discovered
Accounting and HR departments in the transportation industry
Why choose higher security levels?
Adopting higher security levels, such as the advanced and qualified electronic signatures, can significantly boost trust among parties involved in online transactions. This, in turn, accelerates processes, reduces delays, and offers better protection against forgery, fraud, and disputes. Moreover, compliance with regulations and security standards becomes more accessible, making it particularly crucial in regulated sectors like finance and healthcare.
The electronic signature solution represents a significant advancement for businesses seeking to enhance their efficiency, productivity, and security. It offers a host of benefits, including time savings, cost reduction, and compliance with legal regulations. By choosing a suitable electronic signature solution, companies can transform their signing processes and pave the way for a new era of seamless digital work.