How Businesses Can Seamlessly Prioritize Security in Digital Transformation Plans 2022 and Beyond

Will LaSala,

From financial services to retail to the healthcare sector, we are undeniably experiencing a new digital era, catalyzed by forced adaptation over the past two years. Today, organizations are realizing the benefits that a digital focus brings over manual processes, but a key foundational component for operations is seemingly overlooked – security.

We saw a 68% increase in data breaches in the last year, marking 2021 as the highest year for data breaches ever recorded in history. Furthermore, phishing scams have been on the rise, poised to attack organizations from any possible angle in order to gain access to key financial and personal information, particularly as threat actors mimic emails from electronic signature companies.

For many businesses looking to prioritize security within their digital transformation goals, electronic signatures can be a simple digital change to create efficiencies for customers and businesses alike. There are a variety of benefits that e-signatures can provide, including streamlining processes that were previously handled by wet-ink signatures, providing a secure method of obtaining legally valid signatures, and saving businesses both time and money. Electronic signatures are by no means new technology, and the vast majority of countries have laws that govern their legality and validity depending on the application. However, over the past couple of years, particularly in the financial services sector, we have seen a spike in e-signature adoption. Regardless, organizations should still maintain the confidence and security that comes with a wet ink signature.

In today’s age of constant data breaches, the need to implement secure digital technologies, like e-signatures, cannot be overlooked as it is now a necessary tool to maintain everyday business processes. To support overall digital transformation goals, organizations must consider their security posture across the entirety of the agreement lifecycle.

Companies looking to accelerate their business with e-signatures should consider these tips for securing agreement workflows:

  1. Adopt advanced authentication and ID verification technology: Electronic signatures allow companies to obtain legally valid signatures quickly and securely. It can also capture critical information on who signed, in what order, and when and where a document was signed through the use of timestamps and IP addresses. Businesses that integrate e-signatures into the current business process should look to adopt advanced authentication features to ensure only legitimate individuals gain access to documents. This way, the business is protected from both a security and compliance perspective by guaranteeing the integrity of signed agreements.
  2. Prioritize customer experience and security: Across the financial services sector, as digital moves to the center of customer interaction, eliminating in-branch verification and signing has become key to maintaining a competitive advantage. Although the move to digital verification and signing can prove to be difficult, especially for complex agreements, virtually mediated agreements provide the option to infuse human assistance into an e-signature process, creating more trust in the verification process.  Advances in authentication and ID verification are increasing the security of remote interactions, and video conferencing and co-browsing capabilities can accelerate the completion of high-value agreements with their customers remotely in a single sitting.
  3. Adhere to industry regulations & guidelines: Today, across the globe, e-signatures are treated as any other type of electronic data and as admissible as paper-based records. For example, the United States has recognized e-signatures as a legally viable option to wet signatures for over two decades. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was adopted in 1999 which governs electronic signatures at the state level, followed by the U.S. Federal ESIGN law that passed in 2000. These regulations ensure that e-signatures legitimize documents and ensure their legality. Businesses using digital verification and signing must understand these regulations; failing to understand the importance of these laws can lead to gaps in security in which hackers can take advantage and steal someone’s electronic signature. By following regulations and guidelines, organizations can create a foundation of secure e-signatures for employees and customers.

Businesses across the globe have had no choice but to adopt the latest technologies to improve their digital processes. Those who have chosen not to focus on security in their digital transformation may have to deal with the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks and data breaches, like phishing scams looking to steal employees’ e-signatures through phony documents and links.

Modern e-signature solutions can help businesses prioritize security during digital transformation while improving the customer experience. As organizations adopt secure e-signature technologies to take them one step closer to their modern, security goals, they should adopt advanced authentication and ID verification technology, keep the customer in mind, and ensure compliance with regulations and guidelines.

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This blog, written by Will LaSala, senior director of security solutions at OneSpan, was first published in Forbes on March 15, 2022.

Will LaSala is the Director of Security Solutions at OneSpan.  He joined the company in 2001 and brings over 25 years of software and cybersecurity experience. Since joining OneSpan, Will has been involved in all aspects of product implementation and market direction within financial institutions.