Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature

Signatures have been playing an important role in human identity for many years now. 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 and it was this that 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 and this is because very few people are even aware that both these terms are different.

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

The difference between a digital signature and an electronic signature is that digital signatures are used for securing a document so that no person can meddle with it without authorization.

Electronic signature mainly aims at verifying a document.

Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDigital SignatureElectronic Signature
DefinitionIt is a type of electronic signature that extends more security than the e-signature. Its unique feature is that it connects the fingerprint of the document to one’s identity. Any electronic symbol, characters, letters, sound, or process that is linked with a contract and is executed by a person with the intention 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 the different types of electronic signatures.
RegulationThe certification authorities, i.e, trusted third parties regulate and authorize digital signatures. There is no regulation of electronic signatures and 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 was used for signing anything, but now digital signatures have taken over this.

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

Digital signatures ensure that the message contents are not changed or altered and helps 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 a pen and paper.

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

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 the high level of security they offer, while 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 it cannot be messed with by any person without authorization. On the other hand, the main aim of an electronic signature is verifying a document, where the authors and the source of the document can be recognized.
  3. The authentication mechanism for digital signatures is a certificate-based digital ID, while that of electronic signatures can be through phone PIN, email, etc.
  4. The validation process of digital signatures is performed by trust service providers or trusted certificate authorities. There is no validation process for electronic signatures.
  5. The most common types of digital signatures include Adobe PDF and Microsoft, while that of electronic signatures include a symbol, electronic sound, tick, or a scanned image
Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6469828/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378720603000909
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