The Surety of Identity in Today’s Digital-First Businesses
In an age of digital transformation, where business is done increasingly online and whole companies can be bought and sold with the click of a mouse, it seems odd that in many cases, paper documents are still sometimes used for a physical signature.
Perhaps the continued insistence on traditional pen and ink comes from the anonymous nature of the internet and digital interchange in general — with a perception that alongside anonymity comes the increased possibility for fraud. But as well as replacing contracts drawn up and completed on paper, today’s digital signing technologies are in many ways safer than their paper forebears, quicker to action, and have multiple uses over and above the simple act of getting a digital signature.
Between paper signatures and digital signatures (more of which later), electronic signatures are a common stopgap. Instead of a pen and paper, the signatory either just types their name (and often clicks a checkbox to OK the proxy), or drags a scan of their paper signature onto a document.
While an improvement on the grounds of speed in document exchange, electronic signatures do nothing to verify the signatory’s identity, or provide immutable proof that the document has not been tampered with.
To provide those two crucial layers of trust, digital signatures are used. The technology behind this facility is more complex, involving elements of cryptography and byte-for-byte verification.
However, it must be said that not every vendor offering digital signature services is the same as any other. The technologies that underpin safe and secure signing from verified sources rely on PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) and a Certificate Authority (CA). These ensure veracity, encryption, and secure communication. As such, to use digital signatures for documents, data and files of all types, seeking a specialist provider is important.
A company featured on these pages before, GlobalSign, is one such provider of these next-generation verification and digital signature services. You may already be using the company’s technology without being aware of it — the padlock symbol at the end of your browser’s address bar may have got its authority from GlobalSign. It shows your web traffic is properly encrypted and emanates from a verified source. As one of the primary suppliers and verifiers of digital certificates on the internet, GlobalSign is a company that is a pure-play security, safety, and encryption specialist. Who better then to supply the technology for digital signatures on which an organisation can come to rely?
GlobalSign’s DSS offering (Digital Signing Service) has been chosen by many digital document management solutions for use in organisations where document and signature veracity is important. The cloud-based DSS service is trusted to prove the signer’s identity and the validity of the document that needs the signature or signatures. With DSS, all parties can be sure that the document has not been tampered with or altered as it moves between stakeholders. Parties can also rest assured that the signatures come from verified individuals and organisations, and that documents are certified and sealed with DSS – both of which are different to signing. Certifying is used to prove authorship of a document, while sealing can be thought of as a “wrapper” for documents certifying its integrity and providing assurance it hasn’t been tampered with since.
The DSS platform continues the convenience of an electronic signature and extends the element of trustworthiness to increase trust levels between companies and individuals, all achieved at digital speeds.
The fully managed DSS system needs no specific hardware or experience with PKI technologies, with developers able to embed the technology on web apps, bespoke applications or as part of other services, via documented APIs that abstract the complexity away.
To reproduce such facilities in-house would mean significant investment by the organisation and a long road to proper recognition and governance adherence. Thanks to the on-demand, cloud-based nature of the service, it is ready to scale as your organisation’s needs change.
The service is suitable even for highly sensitive files and signing verifications in defence applications, the medical sector, and for documents containing personal information. To keep data governance adherence, the digital signing e-service takes place without GlobalSign ever having any documents or signatures it processes — the company only ever “sees” an encrypted hash of the documents it verifies. The service is fast, anonymous, secure and scalable, capable of processing hundreds of signatures a second if required.
In a digital age, the underpinning technology of the DSS platform extends the traditional paradigm from a signature and a company ink stamp on pieces of paper: the signatures can sign on their own behalf or that of their employing organisation, and complex documents that require multiple signatures are handled much more easily and quickly, with none of the back-and-forth between parties that more complex documents have traditionally had to undertake.
Behind the GlobalSign signature platform is a Certificate Authority whose daily business practises are specialist identity management. That pedigree means users can each be sure of the provenance of documents that need signatures and the identity of those signing.
GlobalSign’s signatures are AATL trusted and auto validated in Adobe Readers. Popular enterprise platforms like DocuSign, Adobe Sign and GMO Sign all have integrations with DSS. GMO Sign is GlobalSign’s in-house electronic signing platform and is ideal for those who prefer an end-to-end signing solution with workflow capabilities under one single vendor.
With little to no specific encryption, CA or identity management knowledge, the GlobalSign Digital Signing Service is a critical piece in the jigsaw of conducting business online in 2021. Instead of the business of the day having to pause and wait for snail mail, or a courier’s progress across the globe carrying paper documentation, the GlobalSign DSS platform speeds up processes, adds layers of surety, and encapsulates the secure interchange of identities and information — all as a service.
To find out more about how GlobalSign’s DSS will help your organisation improve the safety, reliability and speed of its digital workflows, get in touch with a local representative. GlobalSign also has an eBook “10 Considerations When Selecting A Digital Signature Solution For Your Organisation” that may help focus your decision making process.