Ten Things You Should Know about Electronic Signatures
In most developed countries, electronic signatures are becoming as valid as conventional signatures. An electronic signature is more than a digital
signature and can take surprisingly varied forms, as discussed in this article. Moving to electronic signatures is an essential step of moving to complete
1. An electronic signature is defined as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and
executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record" ( see U.S. Code).
2. Courts have accepted e-mail messages, facsimile (FAX) copies of signed documents, encoded messages (e.g. telegrams), encrypted signatures
and e-filings as valid electronic signatures, among others.
3. A digital signature involves programmed generation of a unique private key and a corresponding public key. At the signer's end, a digital signature is
generated on the basis of a message and the private key. At the recipient's end, the signature is verified using the public key with the message and
4. Digital signatures are easier to authenticate than the other forms of electronic signatures because cryptographic means are used for creating the
signature, and can be used for sending the message. The signer cannot repudiate the signature on the ground that the private key has been
5. A trend is emerging to digitize the complete signing process. Documents are hand-signed and factors such as hand-pressure used for signing
different parts are recorded and encrypted. It is much more difficult to forge all the different elements and authentication becomes more dependable.
6. Biometric signatures attach unique individual characteristics such as fingerprints and iris patterns to the documents. Modern passports and visas
are examples of such documents which are verified by sensors scanning and matching these characteristics of the individual carrying the document.
7. All forms of electronic signatur