Generally speaking, technology has become essential for human activities since the turn of the century. This paradigm shift ushered in a new age of digital and electronic documentation. Ultimately, it gave rise to the development of electronic signatures.

In the last few years, electronic signatures have become indispensable as they are used in almost every aspect of human life. An electronic signature is different from a physical signature. More so, there are several types of electronic signatures, which are used for different types of electronic contracts and transactions. Each kind of electronic signature has a different level of security, and different legal backing. Additionally, several electronic signature service providers offer customers different types of services.

There are three main types of electronic signatures. These signatures are stated and discussed below.

  • Simple Electronic Signature
  • Standard Digital Signature
  • Advance Digital Signature

Simple Electronic Signature

The simple electronic signature is a class 1 electronic (digital signature). It does not contain any form of encryption or security. As a result, it is considered the simplest type of electronic signature. The process of creating a simple electronic signature is easy. A user only needs to sign on a piece of paper and scan the physical signature into an electronic form that can be affixed on a document. Alternatively, a user can scribe the signature using a digital writing tool.

Simple electronic signatures are mostly used on documents or processes that have little or no legal implication due to the absence of security features. An example of a simple signature can be seen at the end of email correspondence. The terms and conditions that users agree to when downloading or installing software on a device is another example of a simple electronic signature.

Standard Digital Signature

The standard digital signature is categorized as a class 2 electronic signature. Although both the standard and advanced digital signatures are essentially electronic signatures, the inclusion of the term digital is used to qualify the security feature embedded within.

The standard digital signature is quite similar to the simple signature. The major difference between the two classes of signatures is that the electronic signature contains an information logger that records alterations made to a document. Therefore, once a document is signed with this type of signature, any change that is made to the file while been transmitted to the intended recipient will be recorded within the data logger. Both the sender and the receiver of a document that is signed with a standard electronic signature must-have applications that support asymmetric cryptography.

Advanced Digital Signature

The advanced (qualified) digital signature is a class 3 electronic signature. It provides a user the best and safest form of securing a document. In general, an asymmetric cryptography tool and a public key are required to create an advanced digital signature. Just like with a standard electronic signature, an advanced electronic signature has an information logger for recording changes that are made to a document. This level of security makes advanced digital signatures have similar legal status as physical signatures in many countries.


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