SigningHub new feature: E-Signatures

Posted by rehan.khan on 03-Oct-2013 10:19:00

SigningHub currently enables users to create a combined e-signature with a digital signature. The e-signature part is the hand-signature image displayed on the document, whilst the advanced PKI digital signature is the part that is embedded into the PDF document and is verifiable upon clicking the signature appearance.

Users can create their e-signature in these ways:

  • Dynamic drawing - using a finger, stylus or a mouse
  • Using a scanned image - uploaded and/or stored
  • Typing their name - using a script font

The digital signature is created using one of these ways:

  • Server-side signing (the user’s own key is held securely on the server)
  • Local signing (the user’s key is on a smartcard or secure USB token)
  • Mobile signing (the user’s key is held securely on a mobile device)

The advantage of tying the e-signature together with a digital signature is that although an e-signature image provides people with instinctive recognition, it offers no security. That is, (a) the e-signature can be lifted from one document and added to another, and (b) the document can be later edited and changed without detection. These threats are countered by linking each e-signature with an advanced PKI digital signature.

In some scenarios however an e-signature on its own makes practical sense. Typically this is in situations where a person needs to sign a document as a one-off immediate action, without the need for registration (since the user will not be performing regular signing actions it’s not appropriate for them to hold an account on the system). Also generally in such scenarios there will be a registered user later in the workflow who will apply their digital signature to protect the document from change. It is for this reason we are releasing an e-signature only option (available from Oct 2013).

This brief note describes how to create workflows with the new e-signature only functionality.

Step 1: Preparing for an e-signature

First login to SigningHub and upload a document as normal. Add a signer as usual and proceed to the document preparation window. You will see the blank signature field as follows:






The blue “D” icon indicates that this is a digital signature field (as explained above an e-signature image will also be added to this). By clicking the cog icon in the top right corner, you can switch this to an e-signature only field

Blank e-signature fields are shown as follows (the blue “E” means e-signature):

Step 2: Applying an e-signature

Once workflow is initiated a notification email is sent to the user in the normal way. The user simply clicks on the hyperlink in the email notification and is shown the document directly. There is no need to login to SigningHub, since this is an unregistered user. They can review the document and sign by clicking on their e-signature field. This will show the following window:











The user can create their e-signature as discussed earlier. The user is not prompted for a password because they are a one-time user without an active account.
Once the e-signature is created the workflow process continues to the next signer as before. Typically the next signer should be a “digital signer” – their digital signature protects the whole document from subsequent unauthorised changes.


E-signing provides a simple way for the anyone to sign documents without having to register with SigningHub. The person can just click on the link provided in the notification email, view the document and then sign the e-signature field reserved for them and not anywhere else. A workflow may contain any number of e-signers and digital signers, in any order. A user registered on SigningHub who normally creates digital signatures, can also create e-signatures – this is controlled by the document’s workflow settings.

The e-signature features are also available via the web services API to support use cases when SigningHub is tightly integrated with another website.

SigningHub provides the most powerful on-line signing by providing options for:

  • E-signing only
  • E-signing with a witness (notary) digital signature
  • E-signing with a user’s own unique server-side digital signature
  • E-signing with a user’s own unique local digital signature
  • E-signing with a user’s own mobile digital signature

Contact us to discuss how these options can best be deployed in your business.

Topics: online document signing, e signature, digital signature software, e-sign

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