E signature technology can speed up a variety of documents which reduces delays and saves money by reducing postage, paper, and faxing. It also reduces the time needed to send documents to signers and makes it easier for them to be signed remotely.
A standard electronic signature is an image of a handwritten or typed name that is attached to digital documents. Electronic signatures of this kind do not include security features, encryption or authentication, or verify the signer’s identity. An eSignature that is more sophisticated uses verification technology to generate a hash of the signature and like it links it with an associated public key that identifies the signer’s identity. The recipient is able to decrypt the hash and match it to the public key to ensure that the document was not altered since it was signed.
An agency may employ additional verification methods to increase the security of eSignatures such as passwords, two-factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated forms of eSignatures can be used in cases where there is a higher likelihood that the authenticity of the signature is challenged.
Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. These records could require longer software cycles, and it’s crucial to preserve the integrity of a record when it comes to upgrading or migration processes. The guidance provided by NARA on records scheduling can help agencies determine the proper retention period for these records.