Always, when we need to get the signature of one or more persons in a document, there are printed as many copies as people have to sign, and each one puts the handwritten signature in the document. This operation is done for each copy of the document.
Most people is getting used to digital documents. These ones are produced by software applications, stored in hard disks, and shared using telematic communications.
When a document is printed, a paper instance is created, which content will not be modified. The print action gives us the security, and also that anyone who receives the document, will be able to read it.
In order to keep the security, without needing to print the document, we must transform it to a format which we know it won’t be modified, and anyone will be able to read. Currently, this security is given by PDF format.
Moreover, experience tells us that to consolidate a technological innovation, the compatibility with previous technologies is a key issue. Because of this, most PDF conversion tools are created as a printer spooler.
As a result, when we listen about digital signature, it is common to think in PDF documents. It is the most compatible with the previous technology, digital signature experience.
How to sign a PDF?
Since version 1.5, the PDF format supports embedded digital signatures. These signatures are formatted in the document following PKCS#7 standard.
To sign a PDF document, it is required to have a digital identifier. Digital Identifiers are components that we can install at our computer, or keep in a Smartcard, or a cryptographic token. A digital identifier has a pirvate key, which can only be used by ourselves, and a public one, which is used by others to verify our identity. The public part is the digital certificate. With a qualified digital certificate, we will be able to sign documents, with the same legal security as handwritten signatures.
If we already have digital identifier, to sign a PDF we only need the signature tool. Let’s explain how to sign a PDF using our application ClickSign.
ClickSign can be downloaded from here. This is the signature process:
- Choose your PDF document using Windows Explorer
- Clickover the document with your mouse right button, and the ClickSign menu will appear
- In the ClickSign menu, shoose the “Signature” option
- We will be asked to choose the digital certificate with which we want to sign
- We will be asked for the PIN, if it is required by the digital certificate’s security setup
- Finally, a new PDF document will appear in the same path, with the same name than the original and extension “.signed”
Digital signature offers the following improvements over the handwritten signature:
- More security, since it prevents the manipulation of the signed document, or the impersonation of the signer
- Storing digital documents is much cheaper than paper ones
- The time required to sign a document, since the signature is requested, untill the signature is much shorter if it can be done telematically
- The time needed to find a digital document is much shorter than to find a paper one
- Moreover, the PDF format supports information related to the meaning of the signature, which can’t be done with handwritten signature
So the only question should be done:
Why should be keep using handwritten signature?
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