Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature: Examples, Differences, Pros and Cons

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Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature

What are Digital Signatures?

Digital signatures are digital security approaches used to provide authenticity and integrity of digital documents or messages.

They consist of the public key infrastructure (PKI) and cryptographic hashing functions, which are used to create unique signatures that are irreversibly linked to the identity of the person who signs them.

With digital signatures, the one who signs uses the private key to hash or digest the document. Therefore, a special digital signature is produced. After that, the digital signature is passed to be added either to the document or message.

Recommended: Digital Certificate vs Digital Signature

If a recipient needs to verify the authentication and legitimacy of a document, he will use the signer’s public key to decrypt the digital signature and a newly computed hash of the received document.

The fact that the decrypted signature equals the signed hash will give assurance that the document has not been tampered with since it was signed and that it was signed by the holder of the corresponding private key.

What are Electronic Signatures?

Electronic signatures (shortened to e-signatures), also known as digital symbols, sounds, or processes that show a person’s agreement or approval on electronically stored documents or transactions, are often used to replace the traditional paper signature.

Unlike digital signatures, which utilize cryptographic computations and each signature the currently known individual participants’ specifics, electronic signatures can more often take any form, and no encryption and other specific security measures could be put into practice.

Electronic signatures give people both the comfort of and effort saving to signing documents and consuming transactions over the internet.

They enable the creation of electronic document management systems, reducing the necessity for physical paperwork and thus shortening processing times plus remote collaboration.

Besides, electronic signatures are commonly taken as legally binding by the majority of legal systems and are seen as an indispensable tool in various industries in both the private sector (e.g., finance, real estate, and healthcare) as well as the public sector.

Major Difference Between Digital Signatures & Electronic Signatures

FeatureDigital SignaturesElectronic Signatures
AuthenticationUses cryptographic techniques to verify signer’s identityUses cryptographic techniques to verify the signer’s identity
SecurityProvides a higher level of securitySecurity level may vary depending on implementation
Legal ValidityGenerally considered legally bindingMay or may not be legally binding depending on jurisdiction and implementation
ImplementationRequires specialized software and infrastructureCan be implemented with various software tools and services
ComplexityGenerally more complex to implement and manageGenerally simpler to implement and manage
ComplianceOften used in compliance-heavy industries such as finance and healthcareWidely used across various industries

Applications of Digital Signature

Signing Emails:

Through email encryption software, the user will be digitally signing the emails, which will guarantee the security of the recipient and verify the sender’s identity and the integrity of the message.

Signing PDF Documents:

One can add a digital signature to the PDF file using tools like Adobe Acrobat or DocuSign (Adding a signature using software like Adobe Acrobat and DocuSign will bind the signature with the content of the document cryptographically).

Code Signing:

Code Signing Certificates add digital signatures on the software code and executables to certify their authenticity and integrity, which is frequently seen during the deployment of the software and updates, among other divisions.

Document Authentication:

With no signature, signing contracts, agreements with finances, or any other documents digitally needs to be reliable and cannot be changed or edited.

SSL/TLS Certificates:

By using HTTPS protocol, the websites allow digital signatures to be used to verify SSL/TLS certificates for the purpose of secure data transmission from the conversation endpoint.

Applications of Electronic Signature

Clickwrap Agreements:

Users, with regard to acceptance of the terms and conditions section by clicking “I Agree” or similar words on websites or mobile apps.

PIN-based Authorization:

Inserting or typing a PIN to validate online transactions via ATMs, point-of-sale systems or small devices such as our mobile phones.


With electronic signature platforms such as DocuSign in place, contract signing can be done electronically, where the user can draw their signature using a mouse and touchscreen.

Adobe Sign:

Hiring Adobe Sign is another electronic signature platform that allows contracts, forms, and agreements to be signed electronically.

Digital Forms:

Completing forms and sending them via the internet, usually with the click of a ‘checkbox’ or ‘confirmation button’ to usually signals agreement or consent.

Voice Signatures:

Verbal approval or authorization is to be legally documented and stored for verification through a phone call. Then, these electronic signatures can be used.

Advantages of Digital Signature

Enhanced Security:

Digital signatures rely on crypto-techniques to protect the documents from being doctored in any way when altered.

They offer a great level of security, which makes it impossible for unauthorized persons to forge or tamper with a signature.

Since many jurisdictions affix legal validation to digital signatures like ordinary handwritten signatures, this secures their level of validity as well as enforceability.

Their security features, which establish the identity of the signatories and ensure the documents that have been signed are intact in legal settings, are reliable.

Efficiency and Cost Savings:

Digital signing of documents takes various printing steps before signing out processes by the avoidance of printing, scanning, and physical delivery of documents.

It leads to a reduction in costs and time for both companies and organizations by cutting the use of paper and labor costs.

Global Acceptance:

Digital signatures are globally recognized across the borderlines of countries and industries. Hence, they shall be very convenient and preferred for the composition of files and transactions on a global level.

They make the very essence of communication and cooperation possible among parties wherever they are across the globe.

Audit Trail and Accountability:

Digital signature would normally come with inbuilt features like audit trails and timestamps to make the process legible and provide a sequence of all the activities that took place during the signing process.

This is so that they can be held accountable and be transparent, as there will be records about who is accessing the information and also when they are accessing it, helping to prevent disputes or fraudulent activities.

Disadvantage of Digital Signature

Technical Complexity:

One may not need to have technical knowledge to use and manage digital signature systems, but you’d definitely need cryptography and digital security skills to implement and manage them.

Organizations encounter other difficulties when they want to put in place and run these systems, especially when they don’t have resources or technical competencies.

Initial Investment:

The start-up digital signature technology involves an investment in software, hardware, and digital infrastructure.

Small organizations or individual members might discover that the initial sums may be impeding, whereas the long-term benefits mostly compensate for the initial expenses.

Dependence on Technology:

Digital signatures depend on network technology, such as reliable servers, encryption patterns, and digital certificate authorities.

Using these technologies may result in unforeseen problems related to security and reliability. In the occurrence of such disruptions, doubts may emerge about communities’ dependence on digital technology.

Compatibility Issues:

Agreement on common standards and protocols between the different digital signature solutions and software platforms may be difficult due to various systems and issues with others using different standards.

The establishment of compatibility is becoming a serious issue when signed documents are exchanged as interoperability is demanded, and this leads to additional challenges.

While digital signatures are legally valid in many jurisdictions, some regional rules and regulations that are applicable to their utilization may change.

Companies would need to comply with law requirements that apply in their jurisdiction and any relevant industry legislation when implementing digital signature functionality.

This may involve dealing with complicated legal frameworks, conditions, and compliance requirements.

Advantages of Electronic Signatures


Electronic signatures come in handy when you have to sign documents remotely, and paper-based processes are not applicable. They mimic wet ink signatures while reducing the need for personal presence and paperwork.

Users can rather sign a document virtually from anywhere that has an internet connection, easing the burden and saving time on paperwork.


Electronic signatures are leveraged to improve accessibility by providing people with disabilities or mobility issues the opportunity to sign documents online.

The user can perform the electronic document signing using different devices like a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone- this takes into account the reason that you want the signing to be done by all parties in the digital transactions.


Digital signatures significantly shorten processing cycles and touchpoints through automated signing and decrease dependence on manually operated links.

Documents such as contracts, invoices, and correspondence can be signed, sent, and stored electronically, resulting in fast turnaround times and efficiency for business organizations.

Cost Savings:

Automating e-signatures translates into heavy cost savings due to the incurrence of expenses related to printing, postage, and archiving.

Businesses are capable of optimizing their operations expenses and consequently making a profit by implementing electronic signing solutions.

Enhanced Security:

Electronic signatures work by using data-level security and authentication to guarantee the validity of the document signing.

Features like biometric authentication and multi-factor authentication with the aim to keep unauthorized access and harassment at bay – are advanced security features.

Disadvantage of Electronic Signatures


Electronic signatures are an unavoidable necessity when you are to sign documents from far away, and a replacement for the above process is also not there.

The e-signatures are exact and give a wet ink signature feeling, thus reducing the need for physical presence while minimizing paperwork.

Instead of signing a document in an endless supply of paperwork, users can go virtual from any place with access to the internet, which reduces the burden and time spent.


Digital signatures are provided with the vehicle to improve mobility by enabling societies with disabilities or people with mobility issues to sign documents virtually.

The users accepted this e-document signing process to be done using various devices such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone; it is also crucial to note that it is a flexible signing process in digital transactions.


Digital signatures managed to reduce the processing time that is usually associated with manual signing and now enable the workflow to be unhindered by human links.

Organizations can legally create significant documents such as contracts, invoices, and correspondence, leading to reduced turnaround times and greater efficiency as alternatives to paper-based processes.

Cost Savings:

Introducing electronic signatures implies a lot of the saving costs thanks to cutting associated issues: printing, mailing, and document storage.

Companies are capable of improving their operations spending and enriching their profits accordingly by using electronic signing solutions.

Enhanced Security:

Electronic signatures employ digital-level safety measures to prove their authenticity and validity through a data-validation thread.

These functions, such as multi-factor authentication and biometric recognition, are purposefully here to protect you from keypad wars and to restrict access to unauthorized users – they are advanced security features.


Discover tailored solutions at Certera. Secure digital communications, ensure legal compliance, and streamline your workflow with our advanced digital and electronic signature solutions.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.