Electronic signatures have become much more popular in recent years, and for many good reasons. They’re faster, more convenient, and easier to manage. They became a practical necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. And if managed properly, they can even provide security advantages over wet signatures.
That said, electronic signatures aren’t guaranteed to be secure. And even with the most secure technology available, all it takes is a single slip up to compromise their security.
So what steps can you follow to make sure your electronic signatures are as secure as possible?
How to Make Sure Your Electronic Signatures Remain Secure
These are some of the best strategies you can follow to make sure your electronic signatures remain as secure as possible:
- Invest in better software. First, make sure you’ve invested in the right electronic signature software. Different eSignature software providers have different approaches, yielding a different set of features and a different set of security standards for each platform. Look for a software provider that takes security seriously, with a host of built-in platform features that allow you to increase security for all your documents. Ideally, all your documents will be backed up in multiple, physically separate locations, and all signatures we will be recorded with a thorough audit trail, so you can guarantee that the signatures were collected authentically and without modification. Compare different types of platforms against one another so you can make the best choice for your business.
- Choose a strong password. You, along with anyone else using your eSignature platform, should choose a strong password for your account. That’s because if someone is able to steal or get your password, they could instantly gain access to your account and forge your signature. Strong passwords are unique, meaning you’re not using this password for any other platform or application. They also include a mix of different characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. To make your password even stronger, include as many characters as possible – and never give your password to anyone, even if they seem like a legitimate authority. No legitimate authority will ever ask you for your password.
- Enable multifactor authentication. For an added measure of security, enable multifactor authentication. This way, even if someone does get ahold of your password, they’ll be stopped in their tracks before they can access your account. With multifactor authentication, you’ll need to enter a unique, temporary passcode sent to your mobile device or email account, thus validating your identity in a secondary way.
- Educate your employees and clients. All it takes is a single phishing attack to compromise the security of your platform. That’s why it’s important to educate all your employees and clients (and anyone else using your electronic signature platform) about the basics of cybersecurity and the common types of scams to watch out for. Hiring a security company to conduct employee background checks before you hire someone avoids a huge loss of time and money by ensuring you don’t get fooled.
- Practice user management carefully. Chances are, your electronic signature platform will have a sophisticated user management component that allows you to add, manage, and remove users at will. Make good use of this feature by only adding users you trust, choosing the appropriate role for those users, and limiting the access of those users so they don’t gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.
- Keep your systems up-to-date. Outdated software and outdated devices are fertile grounds for cybercriminals, so you need to improve the security of those systems by making sure all your devices and applications are up-to-date at all times. The easiest way to do this is to turn on automatic updates, so new updates and patches are applied automatically. Software developers are constantly on the lookout for potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses, so they can resolve them – but their efforts will only matter if you actually apply new updates regularly.
- Invest in secondary security measures. Finally, consider investing in secondary security measures for your network and your organization. If your organization’s cybersecurity is compromised in any way, it could compromise your electronic documents and signatures. Simple additions, like firewalls and VPNs, can instantly upgrade your overall security.
When Will Electronic Signatures Become the Standard?
Electronic signatures are already considered legally binding. As long as they were collected properly, with a proper audit trail, they’re just as good as wet signatures. And for many businesses, electronic signatures are the new standard; business owners all over the country are pleased with the results they’ve seen and will never go back to wet, physical signatures.
However, there are still some companies and some industries that are reluctant to make the switch. If you secure a mortgage on a house, or if you’re finalizing a major deal with a big corporation, you might be forced to provide a wet signature, rather than an electronic one. When will electronic signatures finally become the standard? And when will wet signatures become obsolete?
It’s hard to say for sure. It does seem like some people are so rigidly adhered to traditional signature collection processes that they may never fully adapt to an electronic signature environment. But it’s only a matter of time before the next generation takes over and fully embraces the security and power of electronic signatures. And as long as they follow the right policies and procedures, the electronic signatures they collect should remain highly secure.