Digital Signature Online: What You Need to Know & Why They’re Important

Digital Signature Online: What You Need to Know & Why They’re Important

Digital signatures are more important than ever today. With phishing attacks on the rise, data breaches commonplace and trust in digital services at a low, users are more cautious than ever about the authenticity of online communications. Users need to know that they’re communicating with who they think they are, and not someone pretending to be that person. Digital signatures can provide this assurance. Digital signatures are mathematical measures of documents or files that allow their authors to prove their identity and protect their privacy. They can also be used as a kind of ‘proof of existence’ – these signatures make it possible for anyone to verify that a document existed at a certain date and time, even if the document itself cannot be found later.

How do Digital Signatures Work?

Digital signatures can be used to secure any type of online communication. A digital signature online is an encrypted code created by the sender of the message that is added to the message itself. The recipient of the message can see the signature, but, without the ‘key’ that was used to create the signature, it cannot be decrypted.

Are Digital Signatures the same as Electronic Signatures?

Digital signatures and electronic signatures are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact quite different. Electronic signatures can be used to refer to many different types of online signatures and are not necessarily digital. An electronic signature could be a simple ‘click-through’ consent to terms and conditions, or a handwritten signature on a mobile device. Electronic signatures can be time-stamped and verified, but they do not promise to protect the identity of the signer. Digital signatures, on the other hand, do exactly this – they are cryptographic measures designed to protect the signer’s privacy.

Limitations of Digital Signatures

Digital signatures are not legally binding. They are only used for the purposes of authentication (to prove the sender is legitimate) and message integrity (to verify the message has not been altered). Electronic signatures, on the other hand, can be legally binding. The U.S. Electronic Signatures in Commerce Act of 2000 (the ESIGN Act) makes it possible for businesses to use electronic signatures that have the same legal standing as traditional signatures. Electronic signatures can also be used in person via a connected device, such as a mobile phone. Digital signatures, on the other hand, are only used online and are bound by their own set of rules and limitations.

Key Takeaway

Digital signatures have many uses and are used by millions of people every day especially businesses. They can be used to prove your identity online, show that a document has not been altered, and allow you to control who can view the document. Digital signatures are used to provide proof that the sender of an online communication is the person they claim to be. It can also be used to prove that a document has not been tampered with or altered in any way.