Are you looking for a new electronic signature platform? Or perhaps you’re thinking about changing your existing provider.
Understanding the differences between these two different types of signatures will enable you to find an app that fits your needs while saving potentially significant amounts of time and money over the long term.
In this post, you’ll learn about how digital signatures work and what distinguishes digital signatures from generic electronic signatures. We’ll also offer our thoughts on some of the top brands currently on the market.
How Digital Signatures Work in Three Easy Steps
Digital signatures offer extremely high levels of security. They leverage a technological framework called a “public key infrastructure” to ensure that documents haven’t been tampered with by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Here is a brief overview of the digital signing process:
- An individual or organization purchases a digital certificate – An individual first purchases a “digital certificate” from a registered authority. This certificate contains information about the identity of the owner along with a public key.
- They create a unique, encrypted hash using their private key – The signer uses a hashing algorithm to generate a hash based on the document’s contents. They then encrypt the hash using their private key, which is stored securely on a personal or organizational hard drive. The hash is affixed to the document to signify the signer’s approval of the terms.
- The original sender verifies the signature using the signer’s public key – The original sender (or any other relevant third party) can use the signer’s public key to decrypt the signer’s hash. They also pass the document’s contents through the same hashing algorithm that the signer used. If the two hashes match, the document must be authentic.
Should You Use Digital Signatures Instead of Generic Electronic Signatures?
Digital signatures are highly secure electronic signatures. For most businesses, with the exception of those in certain industries like defense and government, they are not mandatory. Moreover, using digital signatures unnecessarily is needlessly resource intensive.
Standard electronic signatures, especially those that carry additional safeguards by virtue of the software used to apply them to documents, are more than sufficient in the vast majority of cases.
Electronic Signature Software: Top 3 Picks
Here is a quick rundown of three of the top platforms offering electronic and digital signature functionality:
- PandaDoc – electronic signature platform that offers numerous safeguards, including auto-generated signing certificates and secure online storage for all signed documents. Users have access to a comprehensive feature set, including pre-written templates, document tracking, a large library of integrations, and more.
- Pricing: Starts at $29 per user per month. A long-term free plan is available.
- DocuSign – DocuSign is one of the oldest names in the electronic signature space. Plans that offer dedicated digital signature functionality are available, but it is unclear if these are offered on all subscriptions. Get in touch with the sales team to discuss your needs.
- Pricing: Multi-user plans start at $25 per user per month.
- Adobe Sign – Adobe Sign offers digital signature features on all its plans. Users are responsible for purchasing their own digital certificates. It’s a good option for companies that already use the Adobe software suite.
- Pricing: Plans start at $22.99 per user per month.