what is a digital signature and why it is important

What Is A Digital Signature?And Why It’s Important

Today’s technology has allowed most companies to continue their operations even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even predicted that there will beas much as a 30% increase of the workforce expected to work from home several days a week by the end of 2021. (1)

However, potential issues with remote work can affect the efficiency of your business processes and the security of your files. The latter should be a major concern for both employers and employees,as cybercriminals are targeting workers, and workers are vulnerable. (2)

If you’ve already adopted remote working or are planning to for your business, you should be extra meticulous with cybersecurity. One great way to protect your business is through digital signatures.

What Is a Digital Signature?  

When asked to sign a document online, the software may ask you for an electronic signature (digital signature). However, that’s is not the type of signature that we are talking about here.

A digital signature uses a mathematical algorithm that can be used to verify the authenticity and integrity of any file to which it’s attached. If we want this signature to be based on the most secure technology, we must root it in a Hardware Security Module (HSM), responsible for the management of the digital signature keys.

In essence, they’re virtual fingerprints that allow recipients and other entities to track the owner of documents and transactions. This can be applied to emails, bank card transactions, or digital files.

Digital signatures use public key cryptography, which is also called asymmetric encryption. This involves a key pair system that encrypts the data (public key) and decrypts it (private key). (3)

So when you create a file on your computer using a digital signature, you get a hash for it. The hash function is a set of letters and numbers that are automatically generated for your data. The letters and numbers are unique, so the hash cannot be reversed and no other file can get the same value. Along with the hash, the file is encrypted with your private key.

The hash is important because it proves that your document hasn’t been modified since the time you signed or created it. Any alterations made to the file or message would also change the hash.

When you send the file, the recipient can generate the hash and decrypt it using the public key. The recipient of the message or document can verify the authenticity of the content by checking if the hash they obtained matches the decrypted hash. If they do, that means no other party altered the digital file.

On the other hand, if the recipient can’t open the file using their public key, then that indicates the document might have been tampered with or altered along the way. This shows us the authentication process of digital signatures.

It may sound like a lot of work, but with the right tools, the process becomes seamless. We at Realsec can guide you through each step to boost the security of your business files, because we have the ideal solutions for the cybersecurity of your encryption and digital signature processes.

Why Are Digital Signatures Important? 

Digital signatures make your documents more secure, which is crucial nowadays, as cybercriminals just waiting to attack on your organization’s technical vulnerabilities. These are the ways that digital signatures help to protect your business:

  1. Authenticate your identity

Just like traditional signatures, your digital signature securely informs recipients that you were the one who sent the files. Whether the files are part of your latest project or HR documentation confirming an employee’s time-off request, using a digital signature makes it easy for the recipient to know the files are legitimate.

  1. Protect your files 

No matter the size of your company, there’s no doubt that you have confidential documents that should be protected. From product development research to employee and customer information, you should place your fingerprints, so to speak, on all these files to prove that they belong to you.

  1. Boost efficiency 

Process automation can also increase your workplace efficiency. With digital signatures, you don’t have to wait for executives and managers to physically sign a piece of paper indicating their agreement to the terms of that file. Now, you can send an encrypted email to those involved and get their consent immediately.

Likewise, your team won’t need too long turnaround time for their proposals and requests because you can send your approval or information immediately. Moreover, you can do so without worrying about the security of your files.

These are other ways that digital signatures can streamline your processes:

  • Record keeping – Encrypted files can be tracked more easily, which helps in organizing your files. Some tools also notify you if the email or document has been opened by the recipient.
  • Time-stamping – Digital signatures also have a time-stamping feature. This helps authenticate and protect a particular file because you or the recipient can easily verify the time when the document was created or sent and confirm it with the information recorded in the file.
  • Auditing – Since encryption can improve your record-keeping process, when implemented, it can make it easier to audit and verify files as needed.
  1. Improve your company image

Aside from the technical importance of digital signatures, investing in these tools and infrastructure also improves your company image. Today, customers are meticulous about the brands that they choose to support. It seems like every other week, there’s a news report about hacking or data theft from some company. When potential customers see that you take cybersecurity seriously, they won’t hesitate to do business with you because they will know you can protect their information.

Takeaway 

These days, securing your files is crucial to protecting your business and intellectual property. One of the best ways to do this is through digital signatures, which use public-key cryptography to protect your documents and messages, thus boosting your cybersecurity. To learn more about implementing digital signatures and other cybersecurity measures, contact the REALSEC team today.

References

  1. What Is A Digital Signature? (And Why It’s Important): https://hsmrealsec.com/what-is-a-digital-signature-and-why-its-important/
  2. “Work-At-Home After Covid-19—Our Forecast”, Source: https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast 
  3. “134 Cybersecurity Statistics and Trends for 2021”, Source: https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics/ 
  4. “Understanding Digital Signatures”, Source: https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-018 

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