E signature technology improves many documents which reduces delays and saves money by cutting down on postage, paper and the faxing process. It also reduces the time required to send documents to signers and makes it easier for them to be signed remotely.
A simple electronic signature is a digital representation of a typed or handwritten name. These types of electronic signatures do not have encryption or authentication features, nor do they verify the signer’s identity. A more sophisticated eSignature makes use of verification technology to generate a hash of the signature, and links it with a public key that identifies the signer’s name. The recipient can then decrypt the hash and compare it with the public key to confirm that the document was not altered after it was signed.
A company can enhance the security of electronic signatures through additional verification methods, such as passwords, two factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated varieties of eSignatures are used in situations where there is a higher likelihood that the authenticity of the signature will be challenged.
Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. These records could require longer software cycles, and it’s important to maintain the integrity of records when it comes to upgrading or migration processes. NARA’s guidelines for scheduling records can help agencies decide the appropriate retention period for these records.