Nidhi Prasad
by
Nidhi Prasad

Digital signatures are steadily replacing the conventional methods of signing documents. Over the past few years, E-signatures have become more secure with the adoption of different types of cryptography, i.e., binding a person to digital data and providing verification of the same. Digital signatures provide integrity, non-repudiation, and authentication to access the contents of a data set codes digitally across networks. These signatures are created using an algorithm that produces a 'hash' using information from the contents of the message and is stored in the key.

Blockchain uses the idea of codes or hash for signatures, which is exactly like a fingerprint for every block.

Digital signatures offer an additional layer of security to users and in turn, businesses. They provide authenticity of the data and complete protection against forgery for safer use of online certificates with the help of complex mathematical algorithms or codes.

Blockchain technology enters this cyber ecosystem by adding on the business ledger aspect, allowing businesses or users to create multiple signatures, encrypted fingerprints, and share coding information across various systems in a network of a centralized server.

Evolution of Digital signatures

A lot of people wrongly believe that electronic signature technology has recently arrived in the cybersphere. However, the truth is that digital signatures have been present for decades in our cyber ecosystem. Do you know where the idea of digital signatures came from and how its journey evolved? It all started back in 1976 when Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, two cryptography pioneers, first described the notion of a digital signature scheme.

1977: RSA algorithm was invented by Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Len Adleman. Also, Italy and Germany were amongst the first countries to issue a digital signature law.

1999: Digital signatures were embedded into documents in PDF format, came with encryption and were registered with ETSI.

2000: The ESIGN Act made digital signatures legally binding in the United States.

2008: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted PDF file format as an open standard in its ISO 32000 specifications, which included digital signatures as an integral part.

Over the years, digital signatures have become increasingly secure by adding various types of information codes to the key. These additions have been crucial, being an extra security layer in compliance with eIDAS requirements.
Digital Signatures are not limited to specific documents and files. They are more practical if they are visualized and validated thoroughly. We have many signature solutions in the present era that isolate the signature or embed the digital signature into the documents.

Also Read :What You Should Be Looking for in a Digital Signature Provider

What is the role of Blockchain in e-Signature?

In the digital world, the word ‘Blockchain’ keeps popping up as an essential feature in digital signatures. Blockchain is a specific type of database that makes the history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through decentralization and cryptographic hashing. It works on the concept of ‘proof-of-work’, best known for securing financial transactions and powering new cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

They provide the three following features:

  • Authentication: Electronic signatures adhere to a specific user via a private key. In this, they identify the owner of the private key used to sign the source data in an email or a document.
  • Integrity: Digital signatures use an innovative hashing algorithm every time, to ensure that the message received is not forged.
  • Non-Repudiation: This feature is unique and ensures that a sender who has signed the source information cannot deny it later after having signed it.

Here, the transactions made once cannot be edited or deleted, enabling fully secure online dealing. Blockchain is a novel technology that reduces risk, stamps out fraud, and brings clarity to your processes in a scalable way.

How do electronic signatures in blockchain work?

Blockchain is known to make the e-signing process very secure and stable. Let us see how:

Blockchain creates ‘hashes’ that are numerical codes used to identify pieces of information. These hash codes can be cross-checked and verified with the hash numbers present in another document. If the hash codes match, it indicates that the document is identical, and one can proceed with the transaction securely. The hash code is uniquely specified for every piece of information.

As soon as the hash code is generated, it sends the data and the digital signature to the assigned person. When the receiver receives the information, he enters the sender’s public key and e-signature, which is then forwarded into the algorithm. This process creates a hash number with a specific code. Then, to verify the documents, the receiver checks the hash code of the original document again and matches it with the numeric code received. If the hash number codes are the same, the digital signature is considered valid; otherwise, it is recognized as fake or fraudulent.

Electronic signatures offer key advantages of storing and transferring data in the blockchain. A hacker can alter information without the owner of the document even realizing that the document has been tampered with. However, if this does happen, the signature would become invalid by default. Hence, digitally signed data is encrypted and has a digital trail that can never be tampered with, thus cementing its incorruptibility.

Why is blockchain technology incorporated into Digital Signatures?

Blockchain technology includes cryptography, allowing users to e-sign online with the highest data security. Here's why we consider Blockchain as the best choice for e-signatures:

  • Blockchain technology allows your signature to represent you as a digital identity.
  • Signers can use their private key (encryption) to sign online legal contracts. Thus the parties involved can present digital signatures as evidence.
  • Business users can perform multiple actions in a sequence on a blockchain.
  • Blockchain technology adds another layer of security and blocks tampering and alteration of information.
  • It is easy to trace and track the documents sent for signatures – keep track of who has signed and whose signature is pending to complete the documentation process.
  • Online signatures can also be applied in offline mode.
  • This evolving technology assists in the verification of alter-proof documents.
  • Signature and verification are separate processes that do not rely on a central authority.
  • Every user has proof that specific information existed at a particular point in time, as every entry in the blockchain is immutable.

Conclusion

Blockchain technology represents the future of digital signatures and is widely adopted and incorporated into the digital world. Using this technology for e-signing sensitive data under an additional level of cryptographic ‘hash’ can provide businesses with peace of mind.

If your business wants to digitally seal documents using blockchain technology especially in this COVID-19 scenario, it’s time to opt for DrySign- a user-friendly platform, for more transparency and authenticity.

DrySign not only enables you to scale up your operational efficiency but also helps you create smooth, hassle-free experiences for your clients and employees. Step into a smart, secure, paperless future with digital signatures. Want to know more? 

Sources: cygnature.io | cmswire.com | cryptomathic.com

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