Best Practices 04-29-2020

Remote Secure Document Signing

Dr. Avesta Hojjati

Sign documents from anywhere with digital document signing service

In the environment of remote working, it is important to maintain business continuity. Even before the current global crisis, organizations were looking to innovate and digitize their business to save time and money. With many physical buildings closed, this creates a unique problem for industries where there is typically a written signature needed.

Digital document signing enables remote workers to securely sign documents at any time, from anywhere in the world and on any device. Now is the perfect time to incorporate digital signing because it's legally binding, saves time, is secure and never expires.

What is Digital Document Signing?

Digital document signing allows individuals and organizations to add a digital signature to a document to prove the identity and authenticity of the sender from wherever you are, and is generally quicker than if you had to hand-sign documents in person or with a notary.

It is also a step up from scanned signatures or electronic tickets, which can be easily tampered with and do not guarantee the identity of the sender. That’s why DigiCert digital signatures use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital certificates to authenticate the identity of the sender and secure documents.

Document types that could use digital document signing include:

  • legal documents
  • financial transactions or account documents (including opening a bank account)
  • housing documents
  • sensitive research information
  • insurance
  • digital diplomas
  • medical treatment and signed digital prescriptions
  • invoices

Add a Layer of Security

Even if you are working remotely, you can know that document signing provides security for your documents. This digital signature is an encrypted hash of your message that can only be decrypted by someone who has a copy of your public key, which ensures that the document contents have not been altered and that you know the origin of the document by verifying the sender. Unlike a scanned or typed signature, a digital signature is virtually impossible to forge.

Make Documents Legally Binding

You can sign contracts and agreements electronically that are legally binding. But simply digitally signing your name online does not make a document binding, you must use a certified provider and sign with a certificate that is recognized as equal to a handwritten signature.

Types of Signatures

Types of signatures include standard, advanced and qualified. Qualified signatures are recognized as equal to a handwritten signature within the European Union. They also offer the most security because the keys are stored on a QSCD (an approved crypto-token), they have a two-factor authorization and additional steps are taken to verify the sender’s identity.

Standard e-signatures have a limited authentication of a signer’s identity, while advanced signatures verify the sender’s identity and offer tamper-proof data. Both provide security to ensure that a document is not tampered with, but they are not seen as equal to a handwritten signature. An advanced+ certificate can also have a legal value, but the burden of proof is not the same as for a signature from a qualified signature.

Signatures That Comply with Local Regulations

Different localities have varying regulations for digital signing, but no matter where you are located in the world, DigiCert has a signing solution that will work for your use case.

Documents signed with DigiCert Document Signing comply with the U.S. Federal ESIGN Act and assorted international laws. Additionally, documents signed with the DigiCert + QuoVadis Digital Signing Service are accredited for both eSignatures and eSeals to comply with the most stringent key standards, including the eIDAS.

Sign All Document Types

You can use digital document signing in several top programs such as Microsoft Office® (including Microsoft Word), Adobe® Acrobat and Adobe Reader, LibreOffice® and OpenOffice®. Digital document signing works with different types of documents, including PDFs, DOCX, ODF and XML.

Avoid Expiration

Your digital signature never expires. If the document is changed at any point, the recipient will be notified. Your digital signatures can also be timestamped to increase security and make Long Term Validation (LTV) possible.

How it Works

A digital signature is an encrypted hash of a message that can be decrypted by anyone who has a copy of your public key.

To work, a digital signature requires a certificate with identifying information of the certificate holder to ensure the identity is accurate. Certificate Authorities, like DigiCert, validate the authenticity of those who apply for a digital certificate before they issue the certificate on your behalf. If the document is tampered with, the signature will be broken. The signature reassures the receiver that the integrity of the document is still intact.

With the DigiCert + QuoVadis Digital Signing Service, remote qualified signing is supported whereby your certificate is hosted on a CP5 certified Hardware Security Module (HSM) hosted in our trust center. Signature authorization is performed via an app. This DC+QV DSS is a “zero footprint” solution, meaning you only need to have a browser and a smartphone.

Find out more at or email to get started today.

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