WFH mandates look set to remain in force—time to secure remote document signing processes before it’s too late.

Even before the current global crisis, organizations were already looking to innovate and digitize their business documents to save time and money. In the landscape of global remote working, it is important to maintain business continuity, but with many physical buildings closed, this creates a unique problem for industries where a written signature is typically needed for documents.

Digital document signing enables remote workers to securely sign documents at any time, from anywhere in the world and on any device. Now is the perfect time to incorporate digital signing because it is legally binding, saves time, is secure and never expires.

Digital signatures and WFH

Digital document signing allows individuals and organizations to add a digital signature to a document to prove the identity and authenticity of the sender from wherever you are, and is generally quicker than if you had to hand-sign documents in person or with a notary.

It is also a step up from scanned signatures or electronic tickets, which can be easily tampered with and do not guarantee the identity of the sender. That is why digital signatures use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital certificates to authenticate the identity of the sender and secure documents.

Document types that could use digital document signing include:

  • legal documents
  • financial transactions or account documents (including opening a bank account)
  • housing documents
  • sensitive research information
  • insurance documents
  • digital diplomas
  • medical treatment and signed digital prescriptions
  • invoices

Even if you are working remotely, you can know that document signing provides security for your documents. This digital signature is an encrypted hash of your message that can only be decrypted by someone who has a copy of your public key, which ensures that the document contents have not been altered, and that you know the origin of the document by verifying the sender. Unlike a scanned or typed signature, a digital signature is virtually impossible to forge.

Make documents legally binding

You can sign contracts and agreements electronically that are legally binding. But simply digitally signing your name online does not make a document binding, you must use a certified provider and sign with a certificate that is recognized as equal to a handwritten signature.

The types of signatures available include standard, advanced and qualified. Qualified signatures are recognized as equal to a handwritten signature within the European Union. They also offer the most security because the keys are stored on a qualified signature creation device (an approved crypto-token), they have a two-factor authorization and additional steps are taken to verify the sender’s identity.

Standard e-signatures have a limited authentication of a signer’s identity, while advanced signatures verify the sender’s identity and offer tamper-proof data. Both provide security to ensure that a document is not tampered with, but they are not seen as equal to a handwritten signature. An advanced+ certificate can also have a legal value, but the burden of proof is not the same as for a signature from a qualified signature.

Choosing the right signature types

Different localities have varying regulations governing digital signatures, but no matter where you are located in the world, there will be signing solutions that will work for your use case.

For example, documents signed with DigiCert Document Signing comply with the US Federal ESIGN Act and assorted international laws. Additionally, documents signed with the DigiCert + QuoVadis Digital Signing Service are accredited for both eSignatures and eSeals to comply with the most stringent key standards, including the eIDAS.

You can use digital document signing in numerous popular applications such as Microsoft Office (including Microsoft Word), Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Digital document signing works with different types of documents, including PDFs, DOCX, ODF and XML.

As digital signatures never expire, if the document is changed at any point, the recipient will be notified. Digital signatures can also be timestamped to increase security and make Long Term Validation (LTV) possible.