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/

Healthcare – revolutionising an industry through digital

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digitising healthcare with logoDespite all the fear and uncertainty surrounding data security in a digital world, the health industry has more to gain that it will ever have to lose from digitalisation.

The emergence of new privacy laws – international, local and industry specific – in an era of digital business and record management, has many companies quaking in their boots when it comes to the issue of data security.

One of the industries perhaps most touched by the concern over sensitive data, is the healthcare industry and, although digitisation can sound scary, there are so many more benefits than there are risks for this specific industry – and at the top of the advantages list, is increased security.

Independent research on paper document security by the Ponemon Institute found that not only is there a greater risk of loss that comes with going the paper route – rather than digital – but paper processes also make it far more difficult for companies to prepare for audits, share information securely and cut down on costs.

“There are not enough resources available to protect confidential paper documents. Sixty-one percent of individuals surveyed report that there are not enough resources and controls available to secure paper documents containing sensitive or confidential information,” reports Ponemon.

Digital Dawn

And, while times may change, paper processes do not. The fact remains – paper and manual document and data processes will always require more time and money, and be more prone to human error and other inevitable risks that come with physical handling, duplication and the sending back and forth of documents.

Fortunately, where resources do change, is in the digital realm. Today, digitalisation is not only a reality – it is the only way to go for institutions that value the security of their data as highly as law – and good sense – dictate.

Digitising processes, including storing and maintaining medical records, registration, exam requests and prescriptions, among others, can only bolster the security of data, and therefore the protection of all parties involved in medical processes, including patients, physicians, hospitals, laboratories and medical finance institutions.

The SigniFlow solution was developed precisely for this type of application. Instead of limiting functionality and dictating how entities and organisations should use their systems, SigniFlow offers total flexibility, allowing integration with a host of business applications so companies can go digital their way, with as little disruption as possible.

The best part, coming back to the thorny issue of data security, is that our encrypted solution is fully compliant with all security and privacy standards, including security requirements imposed by internal policies, industry, national and international laws.

Serious Security

SigniFlow is compatible with different enterprise resource planning (ERP) and hospital management systems, such as Phillips Tasy, MV and Benner, allowing entities and organisations to take advantage of investments already made, without the impact a change of system and infrastructure can have.

Our software platform enables the digitisation of processes such as patient check in, onboarding, medical records, requests for examinations and procedures, prescriptions and many more medical processes. At the same time, the SigniFlow solution uses different authentication methods to guarantee the identity of the parties involved, and to apply electronic signatures sealed by a digital certificate.

What’s more, SigniFlow allows users with their own certificates to use these, thereby enforcing compliance with regulations such as eIDAS, eSign, ICP Brasil, HIPPA, and many others, ensuring the authenticity, integrity and non-repudiation required to legally validate the relevant documents anywhere in the world.

For customers that require a higher level of identity assurance, we can also implement different authentication methods, such as witness signatures, photo capturing or biometrics, at the time of signing.

Big Benefits

So, in a nutshell, what are the real and immediate benefits of digitising processes in the healthcare industry?

Well, in addition to a considerable reduction in the costs associated with paper processes, going digital with SigniFlow can:

  • Decrease time of registration and admission of patients
  • Reduce waiting time for insurance approvals
  • Reduce financial loss resulting from misplaced original paper contracts related to payments for hospitals and insurance
  • Eliminate prescription forgery and health insurance fraud
  • Increase efficiency when it comes to access to patients’ medical history
  • Centralise information, allowing it to be shared with the relevant party (such as other hospitals, experts, health insurance, laboratories & pharmacies) in a matter of seconds

And the above are just some of the many benefits that come from integrating with our platform to digitise processes.

For patients, it means faster and more efficient healthcare. It means faster processes – which in turn means a quicker diagnosis.

For more information visit www.signiflow.com or call us on 010 300 4898.

REFERENCES

  1. Ponemon Institute: Security of Paper Documents in the Workplace
  2. Crypto ID: Benefícios da digitalização de processos na Indústria de Saúde

 

DocFlow: Bridging the document automation gap

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G10167-MSSigniFlow now integrates a document management and process automation tool that seamlessly manages business processes, from A to Z.

Document management is without doubt one of the most important functions in a business, regardless of its size. In many ways, document management is the heartbeat of an organisation – the foundation upon which many other functions are built, and that enables a company to run smoothly.

Despite this, many organisations struggle to adequately manage this core of their business, which is heavily reliant on efficient, traceable business processes and corresponding archives.

This is where DocFlow – a powerful combination of document management and process automation systems – comes in. Created by SigniFlow engineers, DocFlow is an integrated extension to SigniFlow workflows, which seamlessly manages the automation of business processes, from A to Z.

Released in 2018,  DocFlow is set to become an indispensable component of businesses’ process and document management in the coming years.

The creation of DocFlow comes in the wake of the discovery of a gap in the document management space. SigniFlow found that a number of clients were in serious need of auxiliary functions, such as meta matching through barcode scanning, barcode decryption, auto filing, and managing physical artefacts that lacked electronic artefacts. Following painstaking research and design by the SigniFlow team, we are now able to bridge this gap.

How DocFlow works

As an extension of SigniFlow, DocFlow works by allowing business owners to create input and output rule-based folders, following the mapping of a business process, to manage the flow of data and documents from the initial input, to the ultimate archiving destination.

Based on pre-configured process workflow rules and security-based user roles, DocFlow manages the workflow of all business documents, through automated and controlled digital processes.

DocFlow utilises the SigniFlow workflow and digital signature signing capabilities to ensure processes that require documents to be signed can be automated, while processes remain fully digital at all times.

DocFlow also allows businesses to link physical paper documents kept in filing rooms or cabinets, or at branches, to digital records using structured file plans – as well as to manage physical documents that are in transit, ensuring that what is sent from a location, is exactly what arrives at the intended destination.

An essential for businesses of any size, document management has never been so secure and failsafe.

As of Q1 2019, this powerful new tool will be available for all SigniFlow customers at no additional licence costs, with a basic setup for document archiving.

For more information on DocFlow and what it can do for you and your business, 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

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

SignFlow broadens horizons, rebrands as SigniFlow

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SignFlow rebrandWe have spread our wings and taken to international shores…introducing our new, fresh look.

As a South African technology team with a spirit of innovation at the heart of our being, change and growth are two things we at SignFlow prize very highly.

Which is why we are so excited to announce that SignFlow has spread its wings, recently journeying beyond the African continent, into Europe, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

As an embodiment of this globalisation, we have decided to consolidate our local and international branding, which goes hand in hand with a fresh new look – including an awesome new website and epic new logo…

Introducing SigniFlow

The international offering of SignFlow (.co.za) is called SigniFlow (.com), which – as of May 2018 – is officially the successor to SignFlow.

While all old and existing marketing and training material and other content will still be branded as SignFlow – along with the old logo and look – it all remains 100% relevant.

SignFlow has been around for a few years, having made indelible footprints in cyber space, so the transition to SigniFlow is going to take some time. Our focus right now is on all of our branding going forward, so all new material and content will be branded SigniFlow.

What does this mean for you?

Well, to cite Coca-Cola, “Brand new look. Same great taste.”

SigniFlow, like SignFlow, is still the same world-class, local solution it has always been – just with a facelift. Think of it as a better looking version of the same great product.

SigniFlow is still Proudly South African. Nothing in terms of ownership of SignFlow has changed. SigniFlow – the new, fresh-faced SignFlow – is a 100% South African-owned product.

SigniFlow is also proudly protective of what matters most our customers: sensitive data. In terms of the storage of and access to your valuable files and data, fear not – this, too, remains unchanged. Your files are exactly where they were before, and still just as safe and secure as they have always been, in our South African data centres.

Finally, putting the cherry on top of this exciting transformation, the South African SigniFlow system is currently being revamped, and will be updated with the release of SigniFlow v4.0 during the third quarter of 2018.

Exciting times ahead, indeed. Onward and upward!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information on 010 300 4899 or support@signflow.co.za.