Looking to turn your reseller web hosting business entirely paperless? Or are you a business relying on a web hosting provider who wants to negate the sea of paperwork and just store all files digitally? Then you should be relying on digital signatures.
Let's take a look at digital signatures and learn a bit more about them: what they are, some facts about them, and debunk myths you might have thought were true.
What Are Digital Signatures?
Basically, digital signatures take the typical signature on paper and bring it to the digital world, turning it into a type of digital fingerprint of sorts. This brings a level of security to the efficient, paper-free process.
The signature is like a coded message, and is unique to the document and the signer at the same time. It guarantees that the person who signed it is actually that person by authenticating the person who originated the message and assuring that the message remains unmodified after hitting ‘Send.' If changes are found to have been made, the signature is recognized as invalid.
How Does It Work?
Each user is granted a key pair, both private and public. The keys are used to decrypt or encrypt data, sign electronic information digitally, and verifying the user is authentic.
When a user signs a document with their private key and sends it, the public key is sent as well. This allows the recipient to verify the identity of the sender as authentic, and trust the data as it is verified by the Certificate Authority (CA), a third party providing the digital signature service.
Is It The Same As An Electronic Signature?
No, they are quite different. While digital signatures (also called Secure or Advanced Electronic Signatures) are the product of a cryptographic operation powered by the technology known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), electronic signatures are just images attached to a document with a signature (easy to forge.) Basically, the digital signature is like a notarized document, and can be trusted completely. It is a completely secure and trusted way to ensure documents are authentic.
Benefits Of Using Digital Signatures
- Documents are guaranteed secure
- Data integrity is preserved
- High level of legal and worldwide regulatory compliance
- Paperless audit trail
- Document source is verified
- Business processes are streamlined
- Employees are more productive and efficient
- Easy to deploy
- Encourages an entirely paperless workplace
- No risk of documents getting into the wrong hands as content is locked
- Huge cost savings
- Data is easily accessible
In a way, documents that are digitally signed are more secure than paper documents! Workers sign a document with the click of a button, saving valuable time. How much time? One CA provider, Cosign, boasts a user can sign over 60 pdf files in one second!
Are you thinking of employing digital signatures with your customers? You should know that the federal e-signature law gives consumers the right to demand paper contracts to be signed if they so desire. Before you can get your customer to rely on digital signatures, you must have them sign an agreement stating they wish to e-sign and go paperless. Even if they give their consent, they may opt-out at any time. Also, they can pick and choose which transactions they wish to sign on actual paper or electronically.
Are There Any Documents That Don't Qualify For Digital Signature?
Yes! As a consumer protection, the following documents are invalid if digitally signed:
- wills, testamentary trusts, and codicils
- adoption, divorce, or family law documents
- notices that cancel or terminate life or health insurance benefits
- notices to cancel or terminate utility services
- foreclosure, repossession, eviction, or default notices
- court orders, documents, and notices
- documents regarding the transportation of hazardous materials required by law
- product recall notices
Do digital signatures seem like a good idea for your web hosting business or any business in general?