Top ten benefits of digital signatures

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We have compiled a list of the main benefits we’ve seen from companies that have implemented digital signature solutions.  

Blog Digital Signature benefits

The technology we have at our disposal today makes for exciting times, with ever-evolving digital tools drastically changing the way business is done.

As an international provider of digital solutions, SigniFlow is grateful to be at the forefront of this exciting era, and to see the different ways in which our solutions empower businesses of all sizes to streamline processes, become compliant and ultimately serve their customers better.

On the back of this, we’ve put together a list of the top ten benefits we have seen at play in the businesses we serve with our solutions, which have secure digital signatures at their core.

  1. Document Security. Nobody wants to have to go into crisis management mode when important paper documents are stolen, misplaced or destroyed due to a fire, flood or other unforeseen disaster. The fact is, these things happen – and prevention is always better than cure. Digital document management and storage eliminates the chances of physical records going missing or being destroyed.
  2. Company image. Using digital signatures and finalising contracts and agreements so much faster than expectations have always dictated shows clients your business has the latest technology in place, and is serious about efficiency. For one of our clients, the fact that they used a digital signature and workflow solution turned out to be a differentiator when it came to them getting a deal.
  3. Corporate social responsibility. There is without doubt increased awareness and a higher expectation for companies to be environmentally aware nowadays. Using digital signatures and supporting a paperless business model demonstrates that you as a company are aware of the impact using paper has on the environment, and willing to employ solutions to minimise damage. Paper pollution causes serious adverse effects to the quality of air, water and land around us. Not only is discarded paper a major component of landfill sites, paper recycling in itself is a major source of pollution, given all the sludge that is produced during de-inking.
  4. Time management. There is nothing more time consuming – not to mention frustrating – than having to spend hours searching for physical documents that went through a lengthy manual signing, managing & storing process – and straight into a proverbial black hole. Digital Signatures turn hours – sometimes days or even weeks – into mere minutes by allowing you to quickly find the required documents, on a secure server, and then action them.
  5. Simplification of processes. One of our recently acquired customers were pleasantly surprised to see how simple going digital and paperless was, and how quickly our solution was able to save them time and money by simplifying day-to-day business processes. “We initially thought the change to digital processes would complicate things and take so much time to implement, but it turns out it was simpler than any single manual process we’ve done in the past, and our employees were happy and quick to get on board and move away from old manual contract signing and filing systems.”
  6. Customer satisfaction. We love to hear feedback from our customers about their customers, because we understand how much value a customer holds for a company. While organisations stand to benefit hugely from going paperless – in both monetary and time-saving terms – the customers they serve reap just as many rewards, including convenience, speed and efficiency. At the end of the day, a happy customer means a happy bottom line.
  7. Eradication of fraud. It’s no secret that any semi-skilled con artist can forge a physical signature. Digital signatures completely eliminate the risk of forgery, because they are backed by a unique digital identity, based on globally accepted Public Key Infrastructure standards. There is no higher level of security when it comes to signing a document.
  8. Legality. One of the things we frequently get asked by customers, is whether digital signatures are legally valid across all parts of the world. The answer is yes. SigniFlow digital signatures were developed with both security and compliance at their core, and are compliant with European, US, South African and international regulations for electronic transactions and trust services. Our solution uses state-of-the-art digital cryptographic signature technology that allows businesses and their customers to sign documents remotely and securely, with the sound knowledge that they are signing with signatures that are legally binding.
  9. Money savings. This is probably the most immediately raved about benefit see when companies deploy digital signatures. Apart from the obvious money-saving benefits that come with not having to print documents out, such as no more paper, ink, printers and maintenance, there are other associated cost savings enabled by digital document management and storage, such as needing less physical office space (which is often one of the biggest expenses a company has), and document distribution.
  10. Audit trails. In business, the ability to trace documents to their origin is crucial – not only for internal records, but also for the sake of transparency, compliance and protection of company information. Our digital signature workflow system provides businesses with a full digital audit trail, kept with documents in the SigniFlow workspace, stored on secure servers.

For more information on our solutions, visit our website www.signiflow.com or contact us by submitting an online query HERE or calling us: International Contact Centre Tel: 002710 300 4899 / From South Africa Tel: 011 516 9403.

Electronic vs Digital Signatures: Defining the Difference

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electronic vs digital signatures EDITED“Electronic” and “digital” are often used as interchangeable prefixes to the word “signature” – but there are vast differences between the two.

We are all familiar with, and have at some stage in our daily goings-on, dealt with the traditional “wet-ink” signature. In today’s digitally-charged world, however, this is fast becoming obsolete as more secure, efficient means of signing documents are developed.

A signature is essentially a means of binding an individual to the contents of a document, by way of an intentional mark. It typically signifies knowledge, approval, acceptance, or obligation.

That may be common knowledge, however, the advent of the digital signature has turned the humble handwritten signature on its head, introducing a number of new (and entirely exciting) facets, including a whole new set of terminology.

A digital signature, in its base form, is a digital code created and authenticated by public key encryption, which is attached to an electronic document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

But, largely dependent on where you are in the world, “digital” and “electronic” are often confused – or wrongly used interchangeably – in both conversation and law. Often described in unison, digital signatures and electronic signatures individually are different technologies, have different meanings, and they carry different legal weight.

So what exactly is the difference then? Let’s demystify this once and for all…

Electronic signatures: The superficial sign

Also referred to as an “ordinary electronic signature”, an electronic signature is generally defined as “Symbols or other data in digital form (whether it be a sound, process or symbol) attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document”.

There are many different scenarios here. An electronic signature can be as basic as a scanned image of a handwritten (wet-ink) signature that is copied onto a signed document, in Word for example. Another case of an electronic signature would be your name, typed at the end of an email.

An electronic signature can even be verbal, a simple click of a box, or drawn on a hardware device such as a signature pad.

Given the examples above, it is evident that, by the sheer nature of electronic signatures, these types of signatures are difficult to maintain, and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process, nor do they carry any active verification capability. This leaves documents signed with electronic signatures wide open to fraud and repudiation.

Digital signatures: The cryptographic mark

As alluded to earlier, digital signatures involve cryptography. They are the most advanced and secure type of electronic signature, and they guarantee the contents of a message or document have not been altered in transit.

A digital signature is also referred to as an advanced or secure electronic signature. It is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

These electronic signatures on steroids are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides absolute non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the document format, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

When a digital signature is applied to a document, a digital certificate is attached to the data being signed into one unique fingerprint, including cryptographic credentials.

That said, it is obvious digital signatures would carry far more legal weight and be preferable should security be even a slight concern.

In a nutshell, you could say electronic signatures verify documents, whereas digital signatures secure documents.

* SigniFlow only utilises Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SigniFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. za – Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
  2. Michalsons – Guide to the ECT Act in South Africa
  3. Difference Between – http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-digital-signature-and-electronic-signature/

Introducing the most powerful consumer signing tool in the world

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happy-computer-woman logoThe SigniFlow team has come up with a sophisticated and secure – yet simple and easy to use – consumer signing tool, set to revolutionise the digital signature market in 2019

When our clients – and the market they serve – speak, we listen. Carefully. So when a number of SigniFlow clients, who serve private customers from all walks of life, told us they needed an uncomplicated signing tool that could be used by anyone, anywhere and on any device – without security ever being jeopardised – we put our heads together and came up with what we have dubbed EasiSign.

Simple and unassuming by name, EasiSign is by no means that at the core. On the contrary, EasiSign is the most powerful consumer signing tool yet. Paradoxically, our latest consumer signing tool is something so intricate and sophisticated, something so watertight and secure on the inside, yet on the surface – for the end user – a simple, clean and uncluttered, easy-to-use interface.

Currently in Q4 2018, EasiSign is only available to customers with existing, or new, SigniFlow Hybrid Server licences. EasiSign is set to officially be launched into the SigniFlow technology stack during Q1 of 2019.

This revolutionary consumer signing tool will essentially replace the existing signing interface when SigniFlow Version 4 is launched during Q2 2019. Don’t get us wrong – the current interface in SigniFlow Version 3.3 is a great business process tool – but we have learnt that for private consumers, especially in the lower LSM groups, signing documents electronically can be overwhelming.

EasiSign eliminates complexity entirely. It is fast and very easy to use, on any device. Best of all – you can rest assured that security and authentication will never be compromised.

The A, B, C of EasiSign

With EasiSign, the authentication configuration can be set by each customer, and on a document level.  Authentication methods include any one, or a combination of, any of the following options: full registration, ID number verification and input matching, SMS One Time Pin (OTP), USSD OTP, password and email verification.

EasiSign is mostly driven by API integration with document composition systems or enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) in the background producing the documents, and triggering the SigniFlow EasiSign workflow.

The new interface features a multi-document portfolio environment that simulates attachments to an email, and can group multiple documents together – which are then presented to the signer as a single document, for easy reading.

EasiSign also features a secured document upload portal, through which the sender (workflow creator) can request that the signer upload additional documents (such as proof of residence, identity documents, etc) when signing.

A great tool for carrying out FICA processes, EasiSign also has huge advantages in terms of the POPI Act, which calls for stringent private information protection.

EasiSign is included free of charge with any SigniFlow licence and, as always, there are no costs involved for the consumer, who can sign in EasiSign using their free SignFREE licence.

Existing Hybrid Server customers that wish to switch to EasiSign, can do so without any cost implications.

For more information on our awesome new consumer signing tool, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

Local digital signature company cements global alliance

itologo

Posted by IT Online on 19 November 2018.

 

South African-born digital signature and workflow solution, SigniFlow, offering socially responsible product for business process automation, has landed on American shores.

A woman-owned small business based in New Hampshire, SigniFlow Americas is a member of the New Hampshire Tech Alliance, an affiliation committed to nurturing a technology ecosystem by building partnerships, enhancing knowledge, and shaping public policy.

The woman behind the new digital signature solution is Laila Robak, a Brazil-born entrepreneur with a passion for information technology and the power it has to transform and improve lives.

“We are very excited about the launch of SigniFlow Americas, and with Laila at the helm, this business is destined for greatness. We are proud to welcome all our Americas customers and partners to the global SigniFlow family,” says Leon van der Merwe, director of digital technologies at SigniFlow.

SigniFlow delivers enterprise-grade on-premise, private cloud and cloud solutions with a high level of integration, allowing companies to customise the solution to suit both their specific needs and their budgets. The solution provides legally valid digital signatures (cryptographic e-signing) and accepts digital certificates from almost any e-identity provider, publicly trusted certificate authorities (CAs) and privately signed public key infrastructures (PKIs).

Robak comments: “SigniFlow is a solution that can revolutionise business processes. It has various APIs that give us flexibility to create and integrate with existing systems and platforms, allowing organisations to choose from a range of options, from cloud to local deployments and hosted environments, and to use a mix of digital and electronic signatures – all while guaranteeing the legal validity of documents.”

SigniFlow lands on American shores

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SigniFlow Globe croppedA new alliance between PBSA and a Brazilian-born IT enthusiast and security specialist has given rise to SigniFlow Americas.

The technology giants we have all come to know so well – to mention just a few, Google, Apple and Microsoft – would be nothing today if it were not for the formidable partnerships they were founded on. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen – all of these dynamic duos go to show that great things begin with great partnerships.

Which is why we are so excited to announce the recent alliance that has given rise to SigniFlow Americas, between PBSA and US-based Laila Robak, former Director of Partnerships at Digicert and Vice President of Latin America GlobalSign.

It is now official: South African-born digital signature and workflow solution, SigniFlow, has landed on American shores, to provide the Americas with an innovative, highly efficient and socially responsible product for business process automation.

A woman-owned small business based in New Hampshire in the United States, SigniFlow Americas is a member of the New Hampshire Tech Alliance – an affiliation committed to nurturing a vibrant technology ecosystem by building partnerships, enhancing knowledge, and shaping public policy.

The woman behind this exciting new digital signature solution is Laila Robak, a Brazil-born entrepreneur with a passion for information technology and the power it has to transform and improve lives.

“We are very excited about the launch of SigniFlow Americas, and with Laila at the helm, this business is destined for greatness. We are proud to welcome all our Americas customers and partners to the global SigniFlow family,” says Leon van der Merwe, Director of digital technologies – SigniFlow headquarters in Kyalami, Johannesburg.

Setting it apart from other solutions present in the market today, SigniFlow delivers enterprise-grade on-premise, private cloud and cloud solutions with a high level of integration, allowing companies to customise the solution to suit both their specific needs and their budgets. The leading-edge solution provides legally valid digital signatures (cryptographic e-signing) and accepts digital certificates from almost any e-identity provider, publicly trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs) and privately signed Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs).

Often bound by endless red tape, many processes in the Americas remain onerous and complex – particularly when it comes to contracts or documents that require approval and/or signatures. SigniFlow takes these processes, which can take anything from days to weeks to finalise, and transforms them into seamless digital processes that reach completion in just minutes.

Speaking of the power SigniFlow puts in business owners’ hands, Robak says, “SigniFlow is a solution that can revolutionise business processes. It has various APIs that give us flexibility to create and integrate with existing systems and platforms, allowing organisations to choose from a range of options, from cloud to local deployments and hosted environments, and to use a mix of digital and electronic signatures – all while guaranteeing the legal validity of documents.”

In addition to this, SigniFlow fulfils the social responsibility role that so many organisations today strive to fill, to the end of doing their bit for the environment – and society at large.

“The launch of SigniFlow Americas not only centres around innovation in the tech space to help companies become more effective, it also goes around environmental awareness. So it’s a win-win situation. We have the opportunity to make business people’s lives better and contribute to the ecosystem at the same time. Signiflow’s solution goes above and beyond,” says Robak.

Go paperless…go green

According to environmental facts and live statistics website The World Counts, 50% of business waste composed of paper.

And here are some related – and scary – facts:

  1. More than two pieces of paper are used per person on Earth every single hour. It is expected demand for paper will have doubled by 2030, from 2005.
  2. The average person in the USA, Japan, and Europe uses between 250 and 300 kilograms of paper every year. In India this figure is five kilograms, and in some countries it is less than one. If everyone on Earth used 200 kilograms of paper, there would be no trees left.
  3. It takes 10 litres of water to produce a single A4 sheet of paper. The pulp and paper industry is the single largest industrial consumer of water in Western countries.
  4. Producing one kilogram of paper requires two to three times its weight in trees. Paper can be recycled, yet 55% of the global paper supply comes from newly cut trees.
  5. Each ton of recycled paper can avoid the use of 17 trees; 1 440 litres of oil; 2.3 cubic meters of landfill space; 4 000 kilowatts of energy and 26 500 litres of water.

SigniFlow not only brings to the Americas the opportunity to expand horizons by automating internal and external business processes, it also assists companies in going green by helping them cut down on resources, costs and by-products of paper-intensive processes – including ink, printers and mailing procedures – ultimately increasing overall environmental awareness, decreasing carbon footprint and bettering companies’ return on investment.

The power it has to transform business and the world it runs in, says Robak, is what makes SigniFlow the most powerful business process automation tool on the market. Coupled with a formidable partnership, the sky is the limit.

“A strong business partnership can be summarised in two words: trust and collaboration. Trust speaks for itself and that is what I have with the amazing team at PBSA. Collaboration means aligning ideals, understanding and supporting each other’s growth and walking towards the same goal – in this case, improving people’s lives through technology and contributing to the environment,” concludes Robak.

To find out more about how we can assist you in your digitisation journey, click HERE

Data protection: SA companies need to take a global stance

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how-to-comply-with-the-data-protection-act-457501399With the implementation of the EU’s data protection laws just around the corner, local entities need to study up on how it could affect them.

D-day for implementation of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just three months away – and South African organisations are by no means off the hook.

If you are a South African entity that handles individuals’ personal data, you will be acutely aware of our country’s data protection law – the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act – but have you considered how the looming GDPR affects the way you manage clients’ personal information?

The fact of the matter is, if you are a locally-based business that offers goods or services to EU customers, you also deal with personal information or data relating to EU citizens’ – and you are just as responsible for complying with the GDPR as any EU business.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at customer communication firm PBSA, points out that any entity controlling or processing data relating to EU citizens is affected by the GDPR. “Controlling refers to any organisation that states why and how data is processed, while a processor is any party doing the actual processing of the data, whether based in the EU, or not.”

GDPR vs POPI

Van der Merwe says it is crucially important for local companies with dealings abroad to do their homework and familiarise themselves with the GDPR’s ground rules. “Companies could be fined heavily under GDPR regulations if they fail to provide evidentiary and auditable processes, as well as adequate IT security, to protect personal data.”

The GDPR is a regulation borne out of the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission’s joint intent to strengthen and unify data protection EU citizens.

Non-compliance with the GDPR comes with a hefty fine of up to €20 million (about R290 million) – or 4% of annual sales.

Similar to SA’s POPI Act, the GDPR is all about data protection. Data includes things like a person’s name, email address and phone number, as well as information collected by website cookies like internet browsing habits.

Breaching rules laid out in the POPI Act comes with a R10 million fine and/or a jail sentence.

Van der Merwe summarises the parallels between the two data-protection directives: “POPI and GDPR are similar, in that they both aim to strengthen the protection of personal information. They differ in their approach, in that the GDPR takes a wider, more global perspective that includes anyone, anywhere either controlling or processing – or both – data relating to EU citizens.”

Auditable business processes

A big part of compliance, when it comes to both the POPI Act and the GDPR, specifically involves audit trails – something PBSA’s digital signature and workflow product, SignFlow, is heavily centred on.

For evidentiary purposes and in order for any company to assert GDPR compliance, the automated management of an audit trail is imperative.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is can assist customers in their strategy to automate and digitise processes in a responsible and compliant manner. “Business Process Automation is at the forefront of our technology development at SignFlow, including tools like DocFlow, CaseFlow and our digital customer on-boarding tools.”

At the core of SignFlow, he says, is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). “PKI manages users’ private keys, and signs and secures documents using Public Key Cryptography. Not only does this make documents tamper-evident after they’ve been signed, but the entire operation is conducted in a secure network over encrypted secure socket layers between the public, personal devices and private servers.”

Unlike paper files and systems managing email attachments, this portal fully controls and audits the workflow and communication channels between interacting parties. “This greatly reduces the risk of data leaks,” says van der Merwe.

“The system enhances non-repudiation, creating a digital trail of undeniable events that prove intent and identity.”

With GDPR set to come into effect on 25 May 2018, and the high stakes attached to non-compliance, South African companies simply cannot afford not to take a global view on data protection. “The protection of personal information goes far beyond just the POPI Act for local companies dealing with international customers,” says van der Merwe.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Digiday – For the GDPR-curious: WTF is the Article 29 Working Party?
  2. The Digiday Guide to GDPR (PDF)
  3. The Sun – What is GDPR, what does it stand for, when is the deadline in 2018 and how can you check if a business is compliant?
  4. Michalsons – What does the GDPR mean for the POPI Act?
    POPI commencement date or POPI effective date starts the clock
  5. Wikipedia – General Data Protection Regulation
  6. IOL – Protection of Personal Information Act soon to become a reality
  7. ITWeb – Unpacking the POPI Act: The ins and outs of protecting personal information

Electronic signatures vs digital signatures

SignFlow LogoWhile many consider electronic signatures and digital signatures as interchangeable terms and, indeed, use them as such, this is not the case. In fact, the two phrases have vastly different meanings – and the respective technologies very different bearings.

Leon van der Merwe, co-founder of workflow and digital signing solution SignFlow, explains: “Depending on where you are in the world, ‘electronic’ -and ‘digital’ -signatures are often mixed in conversation and in law. Although described in unison, they are different technologies, have different meanings and in most countries carry a vastly different legal weight.”

So, what exactly is the difference?

Let’s start with the most commonly used of the two, electronic signatures. An electronic signature (also referred to as an ordinary electronic signature) can be as basic as a scanned image of a wet (hand-written) signature that is copied onto a signed document. These types of signatures are difficult to maintain and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures are often created by hardware signing devices, such as signature pads, which create an image of the signature as a person draws it on the pad.

This image is then transferred onto the document. Verifying the authenticity of the signature at a later stage is difficult and much the same as trying to verify a handwritten signature.

These signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process. There is no active verification capability built into the applied signature area, leaving it open to fraud and repudiation.

On the other hand, a digital signature (also known as an advanced, standard or secure electronic signature) is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

Digital signatures are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the format of your document, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

SignFlow only uses Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SignFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.