A digital signature is a specific type of electronic signature that requires the signer to authenticate their identity using a certificate-based digital ID. The digital certificate is generally issued by an independent Certificate Authority (CA), which verifies the identity of the signer before issuing the certificate. Digital signature solution providers, like Acrobat Sign Solutions, meet PKI requirements for secure & legal digital signing.
In some jurisdictions, like the European Union, a distinction is made between two types of electronic signatures that are typically implemented using certificates: Advanced Electronic Signatures (AdES) and Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES). While both are uniquely linked to the signer, the latter requires that participants use Qualified Certificates issued by accredited CAs as well as a qualified signature creation device (QSCD), such as a smart card, USB token, or cloud-based trust service.
In addition to providing audit trails, with digital signature solution providers like Acrobat Sign Solutions, the signed document itself can produce evidence of each participant’s signature. During the signing process, the signer’s certificate is bound to the document using the private key uniquely held by the signer. During the validation process, the reciprocal public key is extracted from the signature and used to both authenticate the signer’s identity through the trusted CA and to confirm that no changes were made to the document since it was signed.