How do electronic signatures work?

Electronic signatures act as replacements for physical signatures and create a unique fingerprint using cryptographic methods to associate the identity of the user to the content of the document. This is done using mathematical algorithms based on which a private key and public key is created for each user and/or transaction. When a document is electronically or digitally signed, a hash of the document is created and this is encrypted with the private key and this encrypted data is called a digital signature. A property of a digital signature is that if the document gets altered post signing, the signature becomes invalid.

Electronic Signatures represent a broad category of signing approaches which are technology neutral. Digital signatures, on the other hand represent a subset of electronic signatures which are based on a particular approach using cryptographic key pairs that are issued by a Certifying Authority or Trust Service Provider after verifying the identity of the party that intends to use a digital certificate. Both types of signatures allow users to sign documents and authenticate the signer but differ in their approaches and therefore the legal acceptance in jurisdictions across the world. Countries such as United States, Canada and Australia recognize electronic signatures while other countries in Europe, Asia, South America recognize digital signatures issued by a Certifying Authority.

emSigner uses a standards based approach based on PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) to electronically or digitally sign documents. emSigner also supports both electronic signatures and digital signatures for secure digital signing of documents that are legally valid globally.

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