E signature technology speeds up a number of documentation workflows, reducing delays during the review process and saving money on postage, paper and faxing. It also decreases the time it takes to distribute documents for signers and improves the ease at that they can be signed from remote locations.
An electronic signature is an image of a typed or handwritten name that is attached to digital documents. These types of eSignatures do not verify the identity of the signer, nor do they include any authentication or encryption features. A more advanced eSignature uses verification technology to create an encrypted hash of the signature data, and then connect it to a public-key associated with the signature’s electronic identification. The recipient is able to decrypt the hash and then compare it with the public key to confirm that the document has not been altered in any way since it was signed.
A company can improve the security of electronic signatures through additional authentication methods, including passwords, two factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated types are used when there’s greater chance that the validity of the signature could be challenged.
Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. They may require a longer software cycle, and it’s important to maintain the integrity of a record in any upgrade or migration processes. NARA’s guidance on scheduling records can assist agencies in determining proper retention period for these records.