- February 1, 2022
- Karolin Koestler, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA
There are many ways to sign digital documents. Some are quicker than others, while some are more secure. These are the most popular ways to have documents signed.
Simple electronic signatures (SES)
These are sometimes called eSignatures and they are one of the most popular types that can be used for online signing.
This signature does not use cryptographic encryption. It relies on the signer’s intention to sign the document as proof of its validity.
This type of signature is easy to use but it’s also very easy to falsify because there are few security protocols to confirm the authenticity of the signer.
An electronic signature can be used to sign contracts or agreements. It is possible for a simple electronic signature to hold up in court (if the sender can prove that they signed it). The legal framework, however, is not strict because it is much easier to falsify the identity of the signer than other types of eSignatures.
Advanced electronic signatures (AES)
This type of signature, which is a step above simple electronic signatures, is much more secure as the authenticity of the signer must first be confirmed before the signature can take place. To ensure authenticity, signatures using these signatures use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates and public keys.
Digital signatures are much more secure than paper signatures, making it easier to verify that the signer is authentic. This is why digital signatures are so popular for signing business contracts or proposals.
Also, the eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) has standards of its own. A European regulation that created a single framework for electronic identification (eID) and trust services in the European Union, eIDAS requires that the signature be:
- Uniquely linked to the signatory
- Able to identify the signatory
- Created using electronic signature data that the signatory can use with high levels of confidence under his sole control
- Associated with the data signed therewith so that any subsequent changes in the data can be detected
AES reduces the risk of fraud and creates a system that only the intended signer can access and/or sign a legal contract. That means that the contract’s legal standing increases.
Note: Digital signatures in the United States have the same legal weight and value as handwritten signatures. This electronic signature doesn’t have the same legal status as a handwritten signature in EU.
Qualified electronic signature (QES)
This electronic signature is unique to the EU, and there is no equivalent in the US.
Qualified electronic signature includes the requirements for advanced electronic signatures and digital signatures (listed above), but also requires additional requirements to the device upon which the signature will be provided
This means that devices must have been obtained from an EU-authorized certification authority, and then used during the signing process.
QES includes both the digital security protocol and devices that allow for signatures to be created. This adds to the authenticity of signed documents and their integrity.
The digital certificate can be added to reduce the risk of fraud and tampering, as well as strengthen the non-repudiation surrounding the digital contract.
Which type of electronic signature should you use?
Your workflow and individual needs will determine which type of eSignature you use. However, most users are looking for a balance between legal enforceability and ease of use.
Electronic signature services such as Foxit eSign allow you to sign contracts from virtually anywhere using mobile devices (iOS, Android), desktops, or laptops.
Foxit eSign is SOC 2 Type 2 compliant, eSign Compliant, SSAE 16, and FINRA Compliant. This compliance enables Foxit eSign to provide legally binding electronic signatures in many countries worldwide.