Month: September 2019

The Ultimate Guide to E-Signature Security Checklist and Rules

The Ultimate Guide to E-Signature Security Checklist and Rules

Every modern business associates with one or the other form of electronic signature in its operations. The basic example of an electronic signature is an application asking for a PIN number or OTP for accessing specific services. With the increasing adoption of electronic signatures, e-signature security has become a highly important concern for every business in the present times. 

The transaction of sensitive information using e-signatures can pose substantial threats.  A number of experts have said that strengthening your security helps in avoiding unwanted expenses related to security issues. Therefore, every organization should follow the best practices to ensure a secure electronic signature

Also Read: Common Threats to the E-Signed Documents

List of E-signature Security Rules

In order to avoid the e-signature security issues, it is important to understand the e-signature security checklists and rules properly. So, the following discussion would take a look at some of the important e-signature security rules. In addition, the discussion would also focus on a security checklist for electronic signatures. So, without any further delay, let’s get ahead.

Rule #1

The first rule for secure electronic signature is to comply with eIDAS, UETA and ESIGN definitions of electronic signature. If these precedents are not applicable, then the e-signature should comply with other national/local regulations. For example, you have the Information Technology Act in India. When you select an e-signature solution in the US, make sure that it complies with the requirements of UETA, ESIGN, and GPEA.

On the contrary, these precedents do not clearly demarcate legally defensible from legally admissible. Various e-signature solutions are admissible in court albeit failing to withstand comprehensive legal scrutiny. The promises of E-signature security tend to fade away in this aspect. An interesting fact, in this case, would be the fact that ESIGN and UETA came into existence in 2000 and 1999, respectively. Therefore, the laws made for electronic signature security primarily defined that electronic signatures cannot be denied legal admissibility. 

However, in the present times, every organization uses ESIGN as a starting point for different e-signature requirements. Therefore, it is very important to measure the eligibility of e-signatures for additional requirements that make it legally defensible. Most important of all, you should ensure that high-risk transactions do not use e-signature technologies for low-risk transactions. 

Rule #2

The second e-signature security rule refers to the use of the same e-signature technology for all signatures on a document. If this condition is not fulfilled, then successive signatures should not destroy the evidence about previous signatures. On the other hand, if a document needs signatures from multiple signatories, then the same signature technology should be used. As a result, the intent, information, and integrity of the signature tend to remain unharmed. This is one of the most important precedents for e-signature security. 

Various e-signature technologies have unique processes for document preparation. The processes prepare the document for signing and also lock them in integrity. Passing a document through different e-signature technologies can result in loss of supporting legal evidence. The legal evidence is an embedded component in the document when the system prepares the document for the second signature. The best recommendation for secure e-signature is to adopt single e-signature technology for documents requiring multiple signatures. If that is not possible, then you should develop policies that prevent e-signature technologies from overwriting signatures.

The use of electronic signature brings so many benefits to your business. Here are the top reasons to adopt an electronic signature for your business.

Rule #3

The third rule in e-signature security implies capturing the intent to sign at each instance of the signature. A person having the intent to sign an electronic record should adopt an electronic form of signature. The intent specifies the approval for information in a document by the concerned individual. The intent capture should be done for each signature as well as at the time of each signature. The intent should form a part of granular evidence within the audit trail of the e-signature. 

The intent to sign is a formidable legal element and evidence for electronic signature security. Therefore, the intent to sign should be captured and recorded with attention to two distinct aspects. The first aspect implies the features in the e-signature solution for capturing signatory’s intent at document review and signature. Another important factor is the storage of intent as granular evidence in the audit trail. The best practice implies a representation of intent in clear language and actions explaining the process of signing to the signatory. 

In addition, the intent should also represent the desire to sign for the signing process. Representation of the intent to sign should also be included as granular evidence in the audit trail of the e-signature. Failing to produce the evidence can render the e-signature invalid. 

Rule #4

Now, we move towards our next rule for e-signature security by taking a hint from the previous rule discussed above. Every signed document should have an audit trail that includes the intent to sign for each signature. In addition, the audit trail should include consistent, timestamped, and granular evidence as we might have learned till now. Every e-signature should track and record all the steps in the signature process so that users could track a document. Users could observe different states of a document in a particular transaction through the audit trail.

Furthermore, the audit trail also helps in presenting a strong claim in court. Therefore, it is essential to have a highly granular audit trail with information on each step regardless of its importance. The details can help you make sure that your document holds up in the court. An audit trail is essentially important for reducing the risk for highly regulated organizations where documents are maintained for long.

Rule #5

The fifth rule of e-signature security refers to attaching an electronic signature to the electronic record being signed. Also, every signature should follow the established standards. The independent verification of the signature should not depend on the electronic signature service or website for validation. Another important concern related to e-signature is that association and integrity are not related together. Therefore, secure e-signature solutions should always ensure integrity as well as association. A reliable e-signature solution should prove the integrity of an e-signature alongside proving the association of the signature with a document. Proprietary means are ideal for achieving association that follows international standards for electronic signatures. 

Therefore, the best practice for e-signature security concerning this rule refers to legal consultation on certain aspects. The aspects include the format of the documents, proprietary nature of documents, human-readability of signatures, accessibility using free viewing software, etc. Also, it is important to verify that e-signature is an integral part of a document. The signature should also link with the document actively. Furthermore, you should also verify the association of each signature with international cryptographic and document standards. 

Also Read: Top 10 Uses of Electronic Signatures

Rule #6

The sixth rule for security in electronic signature refers to multi-factor authentication. However, you can limit to two-factor authentications in this case. The two-factor authentication would involve an email password or an OTP and a mobile device for accessing the password. According to the level of risk, some forms and documents may need higher levels of authentication. 

The risk determines the type of authentication required for verifying the signer’s identity. Therefore, the best practice implies to set up a strong precedent for authentication. As a result, any fluctuations are avoided easily. Two-factor authentication is the most recommended form of verifying signatory’s identity. Without a basic level of authentication, an organization faces the chances of improving risks and issues with evidence. 

Rule #7

The final rule for e-signature security refers to an instrument for preserving the integrity of a signed record. The signed record should be portable, tamper-evident, granular and independently verifiable. In addition, the record should also qualify for verification in the long-term. Therefore, integrity is highly crucial in order to prevent any tampering with electronic documents. Organizations should define the application of integrity to an electronic document. A standards-based e-signature is ideal in such cases. The governance of e-signatures depends on international standards. 

In addition, they also form the basis for secure web transactions (SSL). One of the important factors to keep in mind is to avoid vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in involves the vendor possessing evidence about your document. The implications of lock-in are numerous and can include possible costs, risks of the vendor going out of business. In addition, you also have the risk of the vendor changing their methods after a few years. You should not compromise with these factors when it comes to high-risk transactions.

Furthermore, you could be at risk if the vendor does not have specific standards or they just provide password protection. Therefore, you have to focus on four core issues for ensuring the verification and integrity of signatures. The first aspect refers to portability or independent verification. The other aspects include tamper-evidence, long-term verification, and granularity. 

People have a number of doubts about e-signatures that are spreading as myths. Let’s know these e-signature myths and facts behind them.

Checklist for Security in E-signature Solutions

Now, the most important concern in this discussion refers to the e-signature security checklist. The security checklist can act as a tool for verifying all the precedents of security for e-signature. You should always have the security checklist handy for determining the reliability of an e-signature solution. It also ensures that the integrity of the e-signature is always intact. So, let’s have a look at the e-signature security checklist.

  • User Authentication

The first aspect that is included in the checklist for e-signature security refers to user authentication. In this aspect, you should ensure the authentication of users before e-signing and integrate the authentication with the e-signature and record. The different factors that you should focus in this aspect refer to a solution for supporting multiple authentication methods. 

In addition, the solution should have capabilities for configuring different authentication methods in the same transaction. The solution shall provide flexibility for adapting authentication methods to the risk profile of an organization alongside automation of each process. The solution should also give flexible alternatives for attributing in-person signatures such as SMS password and affidavits. 

  • Audit Trail of the Signature

The next important factor in the e-signature security checklist is the audit trail. The audit trail provides additional security for an e-signature. E-signed documents that can have independent verification and archive have an additional layer of security. Vendor independence is possible only if the solutions can embed e-signatures, audit trail, and timestamp directly in the e-signed document. 

Therefore, you need to have a self-contained, portable record that can act as evidence. In this case, you need to look out specifically for two factors. The first factor implies the abilities for independent verification of document authenticity. The second factor refers to the capability for indexing, storing and retrieving the e-signed document in the preferred system of record. 

  • Securing the Document as well as a Signature

The aspect of document and signature security should also be one of the important agendas for e-signature security. The e-signature solution should ensure security at the signature level as well as the document level. The important aspects that you should look out for are highly important for safeguarding sensitive information. You should verify that each document and signature have security for e-signature.

Furthermore, you should have a comprehensive audit trail showing the date and time of each signature. The audit trail should also provide secure embedding in the document and proper link with each signature. You should also check for the facility of one-click signature and document verification. The ability for verification of signed record validity offline is also crucial in this aspect. Another important factor is that the document should remain accessible to all parties in the transaction. Most important of all, the solution should have the feature to download a verifiable copy of the signed record and audit trail. 

It is important to look into the security factors while choosing an electronic signature solution for your business. Here are the top points you should consider while choosing an e-signature vendor.

  • Audit Trail of the Signing Process and Compliance Programs

You should also note the audit trail of the signing process for checking the security of e-signatures. It makes sure that the audit trail contains the IP address, date, and timestamp of all events and others. The other factors include the length of time for reviewing each document and all the web pages, disclosures, and documents presented. In addition, the audit trail should also represent intent and other actions taken during the transaction. Finally, you should ensure that the e-signature vendor has appropriate compliance programs in place to deal with data breaches.  The recommended compliance program is SOC2 while the other two are SSAE 16/SOC 1 and ISO 27001.

Bottom Line

In this discussion, we were able to learn the importance of rules for e-signature security. The most important part of the discussion was dealing with the rules only. The most crucial rule for the security of e-signature among all the e-signature rules primarily refers to the integrity and association. You should always ensure the facility of an audit trail to track the e-signing process.

Furthermore, the discussion also showed the importance of focusing on security for the e-signature as well as the document signed. Finally, the discussion moved towards a checklist after explaining the seven rules. The checklist helps in understanding the various factors that you should tick-off to get the best e-signature software

Always remember that security is always the best policy so understand the e-signature security checklist and rules first before using electronic signatures for your business! 

Posted by Brian Felix, 0 comments
Top 10 Uses of Electronic Signatures for Small Business

Top 10 Uses of Electronic Signatures for Small Business

There is no doubt that the manual and traditional process of signing a document can be a time taking and hassle for businesses. Just imagine, you have to contract which needs to be signed, and you found that the person is not available. Besides, the third party wants to peruse the document at leisure before signing. All these processes take a massive amount of time.

Another option that you can consider is to fax the papers and inform the client about the same. Then you have to wait for the party to sign it and send it back that to you. However, if the party is busy in some works, this can take a few days, even some weeks. It will affect your business. That’s why most of the companies are now using electronic signatures. 

In detail, an electronic signature enables one to sign the documents electronically. It saves a lot of time and makes the process faster. Here, in this article, we will discuss the use of electronic signatures. But before that, it will be useful to have detailed knowledge about the electronic signature, their benefits, and electronic signature example. So, let’s get started with it. 

What is an electronic signature? 

In short, the electronic signatures are the digital form of a traditional or manual signature. It enables users to enjoy a seamless and secure signing transaction. Besides, it offers better user authentication. 

The documents which are signed digitally are tamper-proof and more secure. The signatures are recognized under different laws in different countries such as UETA and ESIGN Act in the US, eIDAS regulation in the European Union, and Information Technology Act, 2000 in India. These acts and regulations make the usage of electronic signatures legal. 

However, remember that the electronic signatures are different from the digital signatures. A digital signature is a cryptographic mechanism that is generally used to do electronic signatures. For a clear idea, you can check the electronic signature example available online. 

By using electronic signatures, you can:

  • Save time: It’s time to stop chasing paper. Go digitally for a faster process. Within just a minute, you can now sign the document.
  • Keep control: You will get to know who signed the documents, and also about the time.
  • Stay mobile: No need to create cabinets in your office to store documents. You can now save your documents in the cloud and enjoy better access.

Talking about the primary objective of such a signature is to faster the process of document authentication with an identifiable mark. Even though they are not 100 percent secure, these signatures are used in different industries. You can use it in legal dealing, private affairs, business transaction and more. Now let’s have a look into some benefits of using electronic signatures. 

The Benefits of Electronic Signatures

Before going deep into the use of electronic signatures, you need to understand some of the benefits of it. So, let’s have a look into this. Here are some notable ones: 

1. It is intuitive and simple 

One of the most significant benefits of using an electronic signature is that it is quite easy to use. You will find a lot of such online solutions. With an electronic signature software, you can easily upload your document, sign it, and send a highly secure link to the recipient. Then the recipient will sign the document, and the process will be over. Isn’t it quite easy! You can use the signatures by opening the link and with a few clicks. So, there is no need to waste your time doing manual signing. 

2. Offers a maximum level of security 

Some incidents prove that an electronic signature is entirely secure and safer than paper documents. It doesn’t just contain a signature; it also includes other information. For example, who signed the paper, the time and place of signing and more. You can keep track of the process. This is something not possible with traditional paper signatures. 

3. Convenient 

In this geographically extend the business world, a business deals with a lot of customers, partners, and suppliers. In such a case, if you go for manual signing and documentation, it can take a lot of time. But the electronic signatures facilitate remote authentication. Just a few clicks and you can sign the document. Forget about the printing and scanning of the documents. 

4. Quick Turnaround 

Another best thing about an electronic signature is that it offers a faster turnaround. Just think about the process of sending a document, print, sign, and scan the document. Then you need to send it to the third party. This process is very lengthy and takes time. But using electronic signatures, one can sign the document in just a few seconds. The use of electronic signatures in this modern business world opens up different opportunities. It works excellent in time-sensitive conditions. 

5. Lower Cost

Electronic signatures are quite cost-effective than pen and paper signing method. The reason is that you will save money spent on paper, postage, and printing. All you need the best electronic signature software and working internet connection. Save your time as well as money and concentrate more on your business. 

These are some of the significant benefits of electronic signatures as you have got a clear idea about E-signature and its benefits. 

Top 10 Uses of Electronic Signatures

Now that you have been familiar with the basics of electronic signature and its benefits, it’s time to move into the critical section of this article. Let’s explore the uses of the electronic signature that has broadened its adoption over the world.

1. Sales Contracts

Almost all businesses are dealing with sales contracts. These are documents that are signed quite frequently. Besides, sales contracts are also crucial to the companies. Delay in signing such agreements can affect your business’s profit. You need to complete the process faster and in a secure way. This is where you can consider the use of electronic signatures. The sales contract can include business to business sales, residential business, real estate transactions, and more. 

Business examples that come under this are real estate contracts, B2B sales, and service businesses. 

2. Supplier and vendor agreements

A small-scale business often faces issues while negotiating with vendors. So, it is better to lock down the agreement, price, terms, and conditions as soon as possible. If you go for manual signing, you may face a delay in this process. By using electronic signatures, with just one click, you can obtain the sign and finalize the deal. It is quite easy to use and quicker than traditional methods. You don’t need to wait for the moment to sign a document, but you can do it when you want. 

Some of the business examples that involve supplier and vendor agreements are consumer/business services and retail services. 

Read: Top 10 Factors You Should Consider While Choosing an E-Signature Vendor

3. New customer forms 

Do your customers want to fill out some forms or some other documents to carry out business with you? If yes, you can take advantage of the use of electronic signatures. There is no need to go for the lengthy process of printing the documents and get them signed. Besides, by using e-signatures, you can effectively prevent rekeying the data. It also leads to zero virtual errors. 

The business examples that involve new customer forms are clinics, salons, spas and more. 

4. Change in orders

Those who are running the project-focused business; for them, changes are quite common. However, you can face a surprise in the middle of the project, and your client may change the mind. They can increase or decrease their orders. During such a condition, you can face project holdups. The use of electronic signatures can significantly avoid holdups. You can approve the change in orders with the signatures quickly. Besides, you can easily maintain all your documents in the cloud and review them anytime you want. 

Some common business examples which may get benefits of electronic signatures are construction business, architects, and web designers.

5. Customer approvals 

Getting final approval before starting the manufacturing or production process is quite essential for the company dealing with custom-made products and services. When it comes to getting approvals, you can use electronic signatures to make it fast. It gives you enough time to focus on the order, instead of spending your time for obtaining the approvals. There is no need to visit the customers and get their signs on the approval documents. 

Some common business examples that require customer approvals are custom furniture businesses, custom art businesses and print shops. 

6. Employee onboarding

The process of hiring a new employee involves a lot of paperwork. For example, contract forms, enrolment benefits, automatic paycheck deposit, and more. If you sign all those documents manually, it can take a lot of time. However, you can save your time with the use of electronic signatures. Just click on the button, and you are done with the signature work.

Here the business examples that may require employee onboarding are the businesses with more than one employee.

7. Licensing of intellectual property and other legal agreements 

As per law, the legal documents should contain valid signatures of the involved parties. Otherwise, the material will not be considered as accurate. So, here, you can consider the use of electronic signatures. The reason is most of the e-signatures are bound with rules and regulations, which are accepted by the court. They are perfect for signing legal documents. All you need is to make sure that the local authority approves the E-signature software. 

Business examples in which licensing of intellectual property and other legal agreements is involved are technology companies, real estate companies, franchise businesses, and more. 

8. Non-disclosure agreements 

In general, the non-disclosure agreements offer you better security. Besides, it lets you conduct your business freely. When it comes to signing such an agreement, manual signing can lead to being inconvenient. Moreover, the manual sign is not safe, and one can use it for the different types of criminal activities. The most secure way to sign the non-disclosure agreement is the use of electronic signatures. With this, you can sign the documents through your mobile, and you can handle all the process with confidence. 

Some business examples where the use of non-disclosure agreements is very common are outsourcing companies, investigation companies, and other private companies.

9. Distributor agreements

If you are doing business with distributors, dealers, and other such channels, then you can enjoy a better company with the use of electronic signatures. When there are lots of partners who are involved in getting signatures and managing the agreements, it can create a lot of confusion. But with e-signature, it is now quite easy to handle such a task. You can obtain signatures and manage the documents through the cloud services. 

The primary business examples where distributor or dealer agreements are used includes wholesalers, distributors, and technology companies. 

10. Parental consent and age verification

No matter what are your requirements, whether you want to verify your employee’s age or work with kids, you can use E-signature. Besides, you can integrate with their ID to simplify the process of verification. 

Business examples where parental consent and age verification documents are required include kids’ school, school field trips and more. 

Apart from this, we collect some other businesses which may use electronic signatures. These are: 

Retail Sales

  • Signing the sales and purchase orders as well as invoices.
  • Licensing agreements signing.
  • Company and end-user agreements.

Human Resources

  • Employees hiring.
  • Acknowledgment statements.
  • The signing of timesheets.
  • Tax forms.

Legal Services

  • Signing the contracts of retention and fee.
  • Acknowledging confidential transactions.
  • Acknowledging documents of power of attorney.

Insurance

  • Verifying policy agreements.
  • Signing the documents related to claim to process.
  • Renewals of policy and service.

Finance

  • Taxation documents.
  • Accepting loan applications.
  • Disclosures.

In detail, the use of electronic signatures can help you in managing your business in a better way. This is quite easy and cost-effective. But always remember to choose the best e-signature software to enjoy maximum benefits and security. 

Just imagine, a document’s management process where there is no need to do any print and fax. No need to remember the person who signed the documents. Remember that by understanding the use of electronic signatures, you can enjoy a world of fantastic opportunities. 

Conclusion

Whether be a small-scale or large-scale business, to enjoy the maximum profits, you need to utilize every second. If you waste your time in dealing with document signatures and management, it can affect your business. So, to avoid all such conditions, you should always use electronic signatures when it comes to signing various business-related documents. 

The above discussion has pointed out the benefits and uses of electronic signatures. Besides, you learned the uses of E-signature for small scale businesses. No matter what types of paperwork you are involved in, you can save your money and time through the use of electronic signatures. 

So, adopt electronic signature now and get ready to witness a better business growth. Forget manual signing with electronic signatures!

Posted by Brian Felix, 0 comments