A brief introduction to electronic signatures


In the physical world a signature is a name or symbol written in a distinct, personalized form as a way for a person to identify him or herself and show intent, for example by authorising a document or agreement.  The signature is assumed to be unique to the signer and difficult to replicate and forge.​

Electronic signatures

In a digital environment the trace:original solution replicates the properties of a physical original document in the form of a digital file. Enigio can thereby provide the digital document which in combination with electronic signatures also replicates the properties of a physical signed and possessable document. The digital original document can be signed electronically by any signature provider integrated to the system. Enigio's trace:original supports e-signatures provided by several different suppliers.​

An electronic signature represents proof of intent i.e. proof of the signer’s wilful action to sign. The trace:original solution ensures that any signature placed in a trace:original document cannot be removed without detection when verified. The document is also designed to carry electronic seals, providing proof of the identity of the creator of the last version of the document as well as the integrity of that version.

Signature quality

Legislation on electronic signatures vary between countries. The general requirement is that an e-signature is an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by an indentifiable person with the intent to sign the record.

In some regions there are levels om signature quality having different legal value; simple, advanced and qualified e.g. the EU eIDAS regulation. These signature types carry different quality levels of the evidence of the identity of the signer and what was signed. ​

Electronic identity (eID)

eID is a trust service used for proving electronic identification. It might for example be implemented through a unique certificate on a personal device, that ensures the uniqueness of an electronic signature from the person controlling that device. The role of an eID issuer is to ensure that the eID is issued to the right person.​ There are other ways to identify a signer, e.g. using e-mail messages or a mobile telephone number using its SMS functionality. ​

What signatures to use

What signature type to use must be determined based on the legal requirements for the specific use case. Most countries have legislation that regulates the use of electronic signatures and the technical requirements that the signatures must comply with. Your signature provider should be able to guide you which type of signature can be legally enforceable where and when.