E signature technology accelerates many documents which reduces delays and saves money by decreasing postage, paper and the faxing process. It also reduces the time needed to deliver documents to signers and makes it easier for them to sign remotely.
A standard electronic signature is a picture of a typed or handwritten name that is attached to digital documents. Electronic signatures of this kind do not come with encryption or authentication features, nor do they verify the signer’s identity. A more sophisticated eSignature utilizes verification technology to create an encrypted hash of the signature data and connect it to a online storing all files public key that is associated with the signer’s electronic ID. The recipient can decrypt the hash, compare it with the public key, and confirm that the document hasn’t been tampered since it was signed.
An agency may employ other verification methods to improve the security of eSignatures, including passwords, two-factor authentication and biometrics. These types of verification are used when there’s an increased chance that the validity of the signature could be challenged.
Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. They may require a longer software life cycle and it is important to ensure that the record’s integrity is maintained throughout any upgrade or migration process. NARA’s guidelines for scheduling records can assist agencies in determining the proper retention period for these records.