Zoho Sign - Beginners Guide

Digital signature software

Last updated on: Oct 25, 2018

  • Introduction

    This guide is a comprehensive resource where you can find answers to all your questions related to digital signatures and digital signature software. It will help you understand how digital signature software works, the do's and don'ts of its implementation, and other key aspects of its use in business. There are four parts to this beginner's guide: an introduction to digital signature software, an overview of the different types of digital signature software, a section on the laws regarding digital signatures, and a discussion over the application of digital signatures in various domains.

    The basics of digital signature software

    01Introduction

    What is a digital signature?

    What is digital signature software?

    How does it work?

    Features

    02Options

    Cloud-based

    On-premises

    Enterprise

    Open-source

    E-signature vs digital signature

    03Legality

    What are the current laws related to digital signatures?

    Which countries accept digital signatures?

    04Applications

    Sales & Marketing

    Human Resources

    Finance

    Legal

    Information Technology

    05About Zoho Sign

  • What is a digital signature?

    Digital signatures are the modern day alternative to handwritten signatures used on documents as proof of identity. Today, digitally signed documents also have the same legal standing as handwritten signatures. They have been designed to help individuals and companies sign off on business documents from anywhere without requiring their physical presence. Digital signatures are generally validated by certificate authorities or trust service providers to verify their security and authenticity.

  • What is digital signature software?

    To facilitate the digital document signing process, businesses need software which can help them securely sign, send, and manage documents. With this, they can improve the overall collaboration and productivity within their company. 

  • How it works

     

    Digital signatures rely on the public key cryptography mechanism—where encryption and decryption of data take place using a pair of public and private keys.

     

    Whenever you sign a document with a digital signature, a cryptographic hash will be generated for the document with your private key and the encrypted hash will be appended to the document.

     

    Then, the document will be signed with your private key and sent to the recipients with your public key certificate.

     

    The recipients will decrypt the hash value with the sender's public key.

     

    If the cryptographic hash values match with each other, the document is considered legit.

     

    This assures authenticity and integrity far superior to an ordinary signature.

  • Some of the key features of digital signature software include:

     

    Document signing

    Ability to import and sign business documents easily and securely

    01

     

    Signing workflows

    Allow users to define the signing order when sending out a document to multiple recipients

    02

     

    Track document progress

    Know who has signed and who are yet to sign your documents

    03

     

    Notifications and reminders

    Choose to inform signers and requesters about the status of the signature process

    04

     

    Bulk sending

    Ability to send documents to multiple recipients

    05

     

    Audit trails

    Comprehensive audit trails and reports that track user activities 24/7 

    06

     

    Regulatory compliance

    Adheres to all current laws and offers the highest levels of data security and privacy

    07

     

    Rebranding

    Option to customize the software, legal disclosure, and email templates based on your company's requirements

    08

     

    Integrations

    Works with popular apps and also offers APIs to build custom integrations

    09

     

    Mobile apps

    Provides customers an option to sign documents from anywhere 

    10

  • Various digital signature software options

    Digital signature software can be classified into four types based on the delivery, licensing, and type of customers, as listed below:

    Cloud

    In this model, the digital signature software is delivered as a service (SaaS) and it works on all platforms with a standard internet connection. Many modern companies will prefer this model since it doesn't cost anything upfront to set up the infrastructure and maintenance. Licensing will be based on the number of users, who will be billed either monthly or annually.

     
     

    On-premises

    In this model, the software is installed on the customer's servers and will be maintained by them periodically. Each user installs the software on their machines locally and they access the service from their browser. This model works like a client-server. Licensing options are mostly offered annually, or perpetually, with additional maintenance costs.

    Enterprise

    In this model, the software is highly feature-rich and customizable based on the organization's requirements. It can be automated and has the ability to integrate with already-existing applications and services used by the company. Licensing options vary significantly for an enterprise program—customers are charged separately for each service including consultation, implementation, and maintenance.

     
     

    Open-source

    In this model, the software's code is offered to the public, often for free. Companies that have a strong in-house development team and lower budget will opt for this model.

  • E-signature vs digital signature

    The terms e-signature and digital signature are often used interchangeably, however, they are actually two different things.

    E-signatureDigital signature
    E-signatures are digital images of handwritten signatures appended to a documentA digital signature is a type of e-signature, which also contains one or more characters in digital format, representing an individual's identity which is also attached to the document
    E-signatures can use any type of electronic authentication methodDigital signatures use the public key cryptography technique
    Legally acceptedLegally accepted
    Less security when compared to digital signaturesHigher security—ensures authenticity and non-repudiation
  • Legality

    Digital signatures are legal and accepted in courts of law across the globe. However, the laws governing them vary from one country to another. 

  • What are the current laws related to digital signatures?

    ESIGN Act

    According to the United States' Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, electronic signatures hold legal significance provided they satisfy a list of criteria.

    Learn More

    eIDAS

    The electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services regulation (eIDAS) qualified that electronic signatures should be given the same legal effect as hand-written signatures. This law is valid across the twenty-eight member states of the European Union.

    Learn More

  • Which prominent countries accept digital signatures?

    Disclaimer: The above table represents only a partial list of countries that accept digital signatures. The information presented herein should not be taken as legal advice. We recommend that you seek legal advice with regards if you have any questions regarding the specific digital signature standards in your country. 

  • Applications

    Digital signatures are used in various departments for different purposes. Below is the list of the most common use-cases for digital signatures:

    Sales & Marketing

    •  Obtaining a customer's signature during a product sign-up
    •  Obtaining consent from customers with their signatures
    •  Signing press releases
    •  Obtaining signatures from attendees during official events and training
    •  Adding or terminating a new vendor 
    •  Signing a partnership agreement
    •  Signing sales processing
    •  Integration with CRM software

    Human Resources

    •  Onboarding and off-boarding employees
    •  Signing NDAs
    •  Signing company policy agreements
    •  Applying and granting leave

    Finance

    •  Signing internal and external audits.
    •  Signing expense reports.
    •  Signing invoices.
    •  Asset management.
    •  Signing loan agreements.

    Information technology

    •  Asset management
    •  Change management
    •  IT policy management
    •  Release management
    •  Product roadmap
  • About Zoho Sign

    Zoho Sign is digital signature software for businesses. It helps securely sign, send, and manage legally-binding business documents from anywhere. Zoho Sign leverages the public key infrastructure to provide the highest levels of data security while complying with the current ESIGN and eIDAS regulations. The software is available in three editions and seven languages. Zoho Sign offers three licensing options—Standard, Professional, and Enterprise—priced per user, per month. For more information on Zoho Sign, please visit https://www.zoho.com/sign/pricing.html.

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