But of late, the traditional method of signing documents may be going the way of snail mail. Nowadays, e-signatures, which is to say, electronic signatures on electronic documents instead of ink signatures on paper, have become increasingly common.
Some individuals and business executives have been slow to embrace the innovation, however. Their reluctance is often based on security concerns: They might worry that an e-signature is less authentic and secure than an ink signature.
Though this is an understandable concern, it’s not a particularly valid one. In fact, there’s reason to argue that e-signatures are more secure than traditional, handwritten John Hancocks.
The following points will explain how and why.
Forging an Ink Signature is Much Easier Than Forging an E-Signature
Some people mistakenly presume an e-signature is just an image. They seem to believe the only difference between an ink signature and a traditional signature is that one was created with a pen and the other was generated digitally.
However, an e-signature actually relies on various encryption and authentication features to verify the integrity of a document and the identity of the person who “signs” it.
Forging a traditional signature requires skills that can be developed if one doesn’t have them already. It’s also not difficult to find and hire someone who possesses the skill to forge a signature in ink.
Forging an e-signature is a different matter. It requires access to an individual’s computer and his or her password, as well as other authentication features that may be in play.
An E-Signature Creates an Audit Trail (Without the Risk of a Paper Trail)
E-signatures are also effective because they create digital audit trails that can be helpful if a dispute about the validity of the signature should ever arise. For example, if for some reason a client wants to back out of a contract, he might claim that his ostensible signature on a document is a forgery.
That individual will be less likely to succeed if the signature is electronic. Unless a hacker somehow manages to access the computer and password, an e-signature will be inextricably tied to the person it corresponds to.
In essence, an e-signature creates a “paper trail” without the paper. That’s critical from a security perspective.
When you mail paper copies of documents, there’s always the possibility they could get lost or fall into the wrong hands. There’s less chance of that happening when documents that must be signed are conveyed in digital form.
It’s also reassuring to recall that using e-signatures will save your business a lot of money on paper and other supplies. This can also be good for your brand: Surveys indicate that consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with companies that prioritize sustainability. Using less paper is one way you can stand out.
An E-Signature is Legally Binding
Security concerns aside, some worry that an e-signature is less legally binding than one in ink. This is not the case.
In 2000, the E-Sign Act was passed. It defines what qualifies as a legally binding e-signature. If it was created with a legitimate e-signature tool or service, you don’t have to worry about whether it will hold up in court.
These are all reasons not to worry about security issues in the use of e-signatures. They offer a wide range of benefits with no major downsides.
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