• Document: Electronic Signature Systems
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Electronic Signature Systems A Guide for IT Personnel Copyright © Topaz Systems Inc. All rights reserved. For Topaz Systems, Inc. trademarks and patents, visit www.topazsystems.com/legal. Electronic Signature Systems Guide Table of Contents Understanding Technology, Methods, & Authentication ..................................................... 3 What is an electronic signature, and how can I be sure my system is legally-binding? ....................... 3 Why to avoid PIN/password signatures .............................................................................................. 4 Why to avoid mouse-drawn signatures ............................................................................................... 4 Using handwritten electronic signatures ............................................................................................. 4 Signature Security ............................................................................................................................................5 Signature Authentication .................................................................................................................................5 Understanding biometrics and authentication ..................................................................................... 6 Conclusions ....................................................................................................................................... 7 2 www.topazsystems.com Back to Top Electronic Signature Systems Guide Understanding Technology, Methods, & Authentication As businesses continue to replace paper documents, contracts, and forms with more efficient and cost-effective electronic substitutes, electronic signature technology becomes an increasingly important investment. The cost and time savings of doing business electronically are evident across many sectors and industries, yet many companies are still choosing which technology or method is best suited to their needs. Creating, signing, transmitting, and storing any and all documents electronically and in such a way as to be legally-binding can seem like a daunting task, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. This article seeks to shed some light on the electronic signature solutions available and how to choose a technology that is best able to provide your business with the cost and time savings An electronic you’re seeking. signature must be What is an electronic signature, and how can I be sure my unique to each system is legally-binding? signer, under their sole control, In the United States, electronic signatures are covered under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and Electronic Signatures in Global capable of and National Commerce (ESIGN) law. Passed by the US Congress in 1999 authentication, and and 2000, respectively, these two laws serve as the framework for linked to the electronic commerce implementation in the United States, as most state- level E-commerce laws are identical to UETA or a slightly altered version. document to These laws specify exactly what constitutes a valid electronic signature, as prevent tampering. well as the conditions under which it is legally binding. An electronic signature is a “sound, symbol, or process, logically associated with a document” such that it is: 1. Unique to each user 2. Under the sole control of the signer 3. Linked to a document in such a way as to prevent tampering, and 4. Capable of being authenticated Several different methods and technologies exist for attaching “electronic signatures” to documents according to these stipulations. Two common types of signature technology that are widely available yet differ greatly in substance are PIN/Password signature stamps and digitized handwritten signatures. A PIN/Password stamp inserts a single fixed signature image into each signed document when a user types a password or PIN. Digitized handwritten signatures are captured with special pen-and-tablet systems that convert a user’s signature

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