Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature: Difference and Comparison

Signatures have played an important role in human identity for many years. They are used every day by almost everyone to sign essential documents.


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Signatures were not a thing before the State of Frauds Act was passed in 1677 in the English parliament, which made signatures an everyday marker.

Printing documents, signing them physically, scanning, and sending them back have become a thing of the past. Wet signatures became the standard in offices all across the globe.

These days, this practice, like everything else, moved to a digital form. 

Earlier electronic signatures were a luxury business expense, but today they are used widely all across the globe.

Digital signatures that are a part of electronic signatures have not received much attention because very few people are even aware that both these terms are different.

Most people think that digital and electronic signatures mean the same thing and use these terms interchangeably. However, both words hold different meanings. 

Key Takeaways

  1. A digital signature uses a cryptographic algorithm to ensure a digital document’s authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation. In contrast, an electronic signature uses various methods, such as biometric data or a scanned signature image.
  2. Digital signatures provide higher security and are legally binding, while electronic signatures may be less secure and only sometimes legally binding.
  3. Digital signatures require a digital certificate from a trusted third party, while electronic signatures may not require additional certification.

Digital Signature vs. Electronic Signature

A digital signature is an electronic signature that uses a specific technology to create a unique digital fingerprint that a third party can verify. An electronic signature is a term used to describe any signature created using a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDigital SignatureElectronic Signature
DefinitionIt is an electronic signature that extends more security than an e-signature. Its unique feature connects the document’s fingerprint to one’s identity. Any electronic symbol, character, letter, sound, or process linked with a contract and executed by a person to sign the document can be defined as an electronic signature.
PurposeIts main purpose is to secure a document.Verifying a document is its main purpose.
SecurityThese are more secure than electronic signatures since they have more security features. These are less secure than digital signatures since they do not have many security features. 
TypesThere are a few types of digital signatures, the most common ones being Microsoft and Adobe PDF.A scanned image, a tick, or a verbal can be different electronic signatures.
RegulationThe certification authorities, i.e., trusted third parties, regulate and authorize digital signatures. Electronic signatures are not regulated, so they are not much favored in different places because of their authenticity.  

What is a Digital Signature?

Digital signatures have replaced the old ways of signing reports and documents. In the past, pen and paper were used for signing anything, but now digital signatures have taken over.

Digital signatures are complex computer-generated math problems that check digital documents’ and messages’ integrity and authenticity. It uses encryption and decryption technology.

Digital signatures ensure that the message contents are not changed or altered and help to reduce the problems of tampering and messing. 

They also supply details such as the consent by the signer, the origin, and the status of the message.

digital signature

What is an Electronic Signature?

Electronic signatures are modern alternatives to signing documents with pen and paper.

An electronic signature is all about any electronic sound, symbol, or process associated with any contract and executed by a person to sign the document.

It gets the approval of a person on digital documents in a legal way.

The main aspect of the electronic signature is to verify a document.

Electronic signatures are not secure enough as they do not use encryption. They are thus vulnerable to being tampered with. 

electronic signature

Main Differences Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature

  1. Digital signatures cannot be tampered with by any person because of their high-security level. In contrast, electronic signatures can be tampered with by any person because of their low security. 
  2. The primary aim of digital signatures is securing a document so that anyone cannot mess with it without authorization. On the other hand, the main aim of an electronic signature is verifying a document, where the authors and the document’s source can be recognized.
  3. The authentication mechanism for digital signatures is a certificate-based digital ID, while electronic signatures can be through phone PIN, email, etc.
  4. Trust service providers or trusted certificate authorities perform the validation process of digital signatures. There is no validation process for electronic signatures.
  5. The most common digital signatures include Adobe PDF and Microsoft, while electronic signatures include a symbol, electronic sound, tick, or scanned image.
Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature
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