Difference Between Digital Signature And Electronic Signature


Fretty Francis

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 21, 2021

If you are just starting to learn about online signatures, you can easily get confused by the heavy terminology. While most people use the terms ‘digital signature’ and ‘electronic signature’ interchangeably, they are profoundly different. It’s important to be aware of the difference between a digital signature and an electronic signature so that we know how to use them correctly.

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A lot of organizations are now giving emphasis on proper document management, and investing in advanced tools such as digital signature software for better security, compliance, and control. Both digital and electronic signatures allow for smarter and secure transactions in a modern marketplace. Many people wonder about the pros and cons of digital signature vs electronic signature. There is always confusion about the battle of e signature vs digital signature. Before we dive into their difference between a digital signature and electronic signature, let’s take a deeper look at their definitions and usage.

Digital Signature Defined

A digital signature is a special type of electronic signature that offers more security. When you sign a document with a digital signature, the signature links a fingerprint of the document to your personal identity. The signer is supposed to have an authentic digital certificate to prove authorization to access the document. Since digital signatures contain embedded information, users don’t need to check back with vendors or online merchants for authentication. This is the prime reason that most counties around the globe accept digital signatures – they comply with international security standards.

Electronic Signature Defined

An electronic signature is defined as a unique sound, symbol, or process that is associated as a record and executed by a person with the intent to sign the record. A document that is signed electronically is completely legal and binding. They are used to verify documents and may include electronic ticks or scanned signatures. One aspect where the electronic signature loses out in e signature vs digital signature is that they do not have a universal standard. Each vendor may have their own version, and you have to believe their word when they claim that their electronic signature is secure.

The Major Difference Between Digital Signature And Electronic Signature

It is surely confusing and difficult to understand the intricate details about digital signature vs electronic signature. Hence, most companies are now adopting sophisticated tools such as e signature software and document management software to manage their files and electronic data. To help you understand the details of  e signature vs digital signature better, here is a detailed comparison between them,

1. Purpose

  • The main purpose of a digital signature is to secure a document completely. This ensures that only authorized people can access it, and prevents any kind of tampering.
  • The main purpose of electronic signatures is to verify a document. The source of a document and the authors/vendors can be identified. Electronic signatures are 100% legally binding, whether they have a recorded legal acknowledgment, a keystroke, or a selected checkbox.

2. Regulation

  • Digital signatures are fully authorized and are regulated by specific compliance authorities. The authorization is conducted by trusted third parties that are credible and authenticate the signature.
  • This is one of the most major differences between digital and electronic signatures. Most electronic signatures are not regulated, hence their authority is questionable. It is possible to tamper with electronic signatures, whereas that is absolutely not possible with digital signatures.

3. Security

  • Digital signatures have a high level of embedded security. These security features provide a high level of protection to documents, hence this mode of online signature is commonly preferred by merchants, e-commerce dealers, and vendors. As digital signatures are time-stamped, they also give proof about the exact time that a document was signed.
  • An electronic signature does not offer very strong security levels. It does not have a specific validation process, hence it is possible for unauthorized people to access your sensitive documents. It is possible to associate date and time with an electronic signature, however, it is placed separately.

4. Type of Signature

  • The two most common types of digital signatures are based on document processing tools – Adobe PDF and Microsoft. These integrate with most computer systems easily and are highly user-friendly.
  • An electronic signature can be in many acceptable forms – a scanned signature, verbal recording or ticked box can be used as a valid electronic signature. The main objective is to identify the person who has signed the document for contractual or business purposes.

5. Authentication Mechanism

  • In digital signatures, there is a structured and streamlined method for valid authentication. It involves a certificate-based digital ID authentication process.
  • There is no set or regulated authentication mechanism for electronic signatures. It uses the signer’s email ID, phone PIN, etc. for authentication purposes.

6. Intention

  • The main intention of a digital signature is to tightly secure a document so that it is not tampered by unauthorized people. It is completely legal, compliant and ensures full traceability to the main owner of the document.
  • An electronic signature shows and intent to identify the signer. It shows the commitment and the identity of the person who has signed the document with the intention to enter into a legal binding contract.

We live in a hyper-digital era where it is common and sometimes essential to send documents in electronic form. In such cases, it is important to have complete knowledge about online signatures and understand all aspects of digital signature vs electronic signature so that we can secure our documents.

Both electronic and digital signatures are equally binding in nature and help in smooth online transactions. There is no clear winner in the tussle between e signature vs digital signature. All that is required is to understand the difference between digital signature and electronic signature to use them better.

It is a wise decision for businesses to invest in holistic document management systems nowadays. This can help them store, edit, transfer, and secure digital documents, thus leading to smooth task flow management and better operational efficiency.

Fretty Francis is a digital marketing and content strategist at SoftwareSuggest, a software recommendation platform. She's passionate about analytics, conversion rate optimization and ice-cream.

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  1. This is a Great Article for Digital Signature, your blog very helpful for Everyone. Thank you for Sharing A contain with us.


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