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Difference between Electronic Signature and Digital Signature

11 June 2021 09:42 PM

In this era of digitization, where businesses in UAE conduct almost all their activities through electronic means, authentication of documents, signing of contracts, authorisations and declarations have gone through a digital upheaval. This begs us to understand the demarcation and differences between Wet Signature, Electronic Signature and Digital Signature. As confusing as it sounds, all three of these - wet signatures, electronic signatures and digital signatures - are all different from each other.

Electronic Signature and Digital Signature may seem like similar concepts, but the difference between the two, although slight, is still prominent. The confusion arises as they are more often than not used interchangeably. To know what type of signature you need, it becomes important to know and understand the purpose and characteristics of the two.  

What is a digital signature?

A digital signature is a secured signature signed electronically with the help of an asymmetric cryptosystem and hash function. A digital signature is issued by a certifying authority and can only be signed with the help of the owner’s private key, making the authenticity of a digital signature hard to beat. And for the same reason, it is preferred over the electronic signature in any electronic or online transaction. Docusign is one of the most popular digital signatures.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is the digital version of a wet signature. According to the ESIGN Act, electronic signatures are an “electronic symbol, sound, or process attached to a contract or other document and executed or adopted by an individual with the intent to sign the document.”

An electronic signature can be in the form of a check box, typed name, electronically signed name, or uploaded signature image. An electronic signature, unlike a digital signature, is not coded or embedded with encryption and decryption software, thereby marking its authenticity under question.

What is the difference between Wet Signature and Electronic Signature?

As you all know, a wet signature is the signature of a person authenticated on paper by pen. A wet signature is always handwritten, though electronic signatures need not be. Electronic signatures can be signed by either the use of a stylus, uploading the image of a wet signature or even checking off a tick box.

An electronic signature trumps over the wet signature in the following aspects:

  • Savings in time -The turnaround for electronic signatures are mere minutes or hours, whereas for a wet signature it is days. So it will help your business workflows be smooth and faster.
  • Savings in cost - Electronic signatures can be affixed with low or zero costs. However, affixing a wet signature entails printing, scanning and faxing costs in addition to ancillary costs if any
  • Security - Forging a wet signature is easier than trying to duplicate an electronic signature

So this brings us  back to the question, 

Difference between digital signature and electronic signature ?

Digital signature and electronic signature are both used for contracts and documents executed through electronic modes. But the difference between the two is as follows:

  • Coding and encryption - The main difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature is that the latter is embedded with coding and cryptography, which makes it stand apart in terms of authenticity and security.
  • Legality - Digital signature is accepted as evidence in a court of law, whereas electronic signatures are not.
  • Security - Digital signature is considered more secure and authentic than an electronic signature as it requires authentication by a secure public and private key to be successfully affixed, whereas an electronic signature does not have any mode of verifying the authenticity of the same.
  • Infringement and tampering - There is virtually no way to infringe a document after it has been digitally signed. Alternatively, the threat of tampering with the document, although low, is very probable in the case of electronic signature.
  • Authenticity - Proving the authenticity of an electronic signature is practically impossible. In comparison, the authenticity of a digital signature can be proved with ease.

Now that you have learned the difference between wet signature, electronic signature, and digital signature; you can say without a doubt that digital signature is the future of electronic documentation. Considering its features and benefits viz. increased authenticity, integrity, legal recognition, etc. to name a few, digital signatures are more sophisticated and advanced for the smooth running of your business. If you are looking for electronic signature or digital signature service providers in UAE, ePillars is your best bet. One of the trusted and seasoned electronic and digital signature services providers, ePillars offers the best service with impeccable quality and care. Connect with our office today to know more!

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