22 May, 2020

Secure Remote Document Signing

Digital or electronic document signing allows remote employees to sign documents securely at any time, from anywhere in the world and on any device. Therefore, this is the right time to incorporate the signature, saving time, providing security and having the peace of mind that signed documents will never expire.

The current pandemic that plagues all countries has generated the need to immediately migrate to work at home. Even before the current global crisis, organizations sought to innovate and digitize their businesses to save time and money. Although not all work activities can be carried out under the “home office” modality, many companies and organizations that supposed that this was impossible have had to implement it to ensure the continuity of their business.

However, this modality poses a substantial challenge: ensuring the reliability of operations and maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of companies’ sensitive information.

In the remote work environment, it is important to maintain the reliability of operations. With many closed physical buildings, this creates a unique problem for business, in processes where a handwritten signature is generally required.

Digital or electronic document signing allows remote employees to sign documents securely at any time, from anywhere in the world and on any device. Therefore, this is the right time to incorporate the signature, saving time, providing security and having the peace of mind that signed documents will never expire.

What is the signing of digital documents?

The signing of a digital document allows people and organizations to carry out a cryptographic process on it, allowing everyone who accesses the document to verify the identity and authorship of the person who generated it and at the same time ensure its authenticity, undoubtedly indicating that it has not been changed since its generation. In this way, the handwritten signature of documents is efficiently replaced, since it is a procedure that can generally be performed much faster than the signature in person and enables the exchange of signed documents regardless of the existing physical distance.

The digital signature implies a substantially greater security than other procedures, such as the use of scanned signatures or typed, which can be easily manipulated and do not in any way guarantee the identity of the signer. Digital or electronic signatures are generated using digital certificates issued under a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). The digital certificates issued by CertiSur are cryptographically processed by DigiCert, the world leader in this technology, complying with all the standards and certifications in this area.

In order to function, a digital signature requires the issuance of a certificate with information from the certificate holder to ensure that the identity is accurate. This certificate contains a public key, which is used to verify the signatures generated by its holder, and is cryptographically associated with a private key, which is only in the possession of the signer. Certification authorities, such as CertiSur, validate the authenticity of those who request a digital certificate before issuing it.

There are many uses for this technology. For more than 20 years, CertiSur has mounted Digital certificate infrastructures that allow the signing of purchase and sale contracts, Internet banking transactions, internal communications and emails, estimates and purchase orders, etc. As can be seen, its use is as wide as the needs of any organization that requires implementing digital circuits to replace paper processes.

The security of electronically signed documents is provided by the digital signature, which is actually a cryptographically encrypted hash that can only be interpreted using the public key contained in the signer’s certificate. In this way, it is guaranteed that the content of the digital document, whatever it is (text, photos, graphics, etc.), has not been modified and its origin can be verified, by identifying the sender.

Digital document signing can be used in most of the available programs, such as Microsoft Office® (including Microsoft Word and Excel), Adobe® Acrobat and Adobe Reader, LibreOffice® and OpenOffice®. Digital document signing works with different types of documents, including PDF, DOCX, ODF and XML.

A very important issue is that the digital signature never expires. At any moment in time, the integrity of a document and its authorship can be verified. Signed documents can also include a time stamp, which ensures that it has existed at a certain point in time. CertiSur provides the Time Stamping service on its website for free, through its own Certifying Authority, thus incorporating an additional element of security to digitally signed documents.

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