3 Key Attributes of Enhanced Electronic Signatures

Mary Ellen Power, January 23, 2015

An enhanced or advanced electronic signature is often defined differently depending on the particular legal system you are working within. However, the nuances of legal systems aside, the theme is common - a basic e-signature is not necessarily enforceable in court, but an enhanced or advanced solution provides added functions that make them legally binding. There are many attributes that can come together to make up an enhanced e-signature, leaving organizations with plenty of room to create a signing process that meets their specific needs. However, there are a few key traits of an enhanced e-signature that will be apparent in almost any situation.

1. Digital signatures
A digital signature is an encrypted file that travels alongside any communications and processes involving the electronic signing process. Creating an electronic signature with the help of a digital signature ensures that all of the key metadata about that e-signature is recorded and maintained as part of the intent capturing process. Furthermore, the digital signature effectively puts a watermark on the signature, making it clearly evident when the file has been accessed, tampered with or otherwise adjusted.

2. Multi-factor authentication
Collecting a user name and password may not be enough to ensure user authenticity in every situation. There may be some circumstances when that is enough, but organizations that want to ensure their e-signatures hold up in court are best off adding at least two authentication methods (E.G. username and password along with a security question). The best way to establish dual-factor authentication, or better, will depend on the specific of how your organization is using e-signatures - mobile users that frequently sign documents will need a more intuitive setup than employees that may only sign documents under special circumstances.

Regardless of how you establish user identity, having multiple tiers of authentication goes a long way to enhancing the basic e-signature through advanced processes.

3. More than just email
An enhanced e-signature will take the agreement beyond the realm of an email message. It may be transmitted via email or a similar channel, but the documentation will be formalized and the signing process will be so clear that users will understand they are dealing with an official document. This is key as organizations have the freedom to establish their own signing process. Going beyond "click here to agree" or email stating that you agree is a key component of an advanced e-signature.

Our FAQ page goes into depth about how advanced e-signatures stand out. Check it out to learn all you can about how enhanced e-signature solutions function.