Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature

Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature-feature image
August 14, 2022 8 Min read

Business houses often use the terms “digital signature” and “electronic signature” interchangeably since they both refer to a paperless signature process. However, there are some fundamental distinctions between the two. Digital signatures are primarily used to safeguard papers and are allowed by certification agencies. Whereas electronic signatures are frequently related to contracts in which the signer intends to agree to terms and conditions.

What Is Digital Signature?

A digital signature offers a more secure alternative to hand-signing documents. Digital signature procedure ensures that the signer’s identity is genuine. When a digital signature is added to a PDF or word document, the signer’s identity is validated, and the signed document is attached with a digital signature certificate that certifies its authenticity.

Any further changes or edits to the digitally signed document will invalidate the certificate’s digital signature. This serves as a measure of non-repudiation and safeguards the document against alteration.

What Is Electronic Signature?

An electronic signature, often known as an e-signature, is a method of adding a signature to PDF or Word documents. It’s usually done by placing a hand-drawn graphic of one’s signature or typing the user’s name in a stylized font. This process is another alternative to traditional ink-based signatures and seals on paper documents.

Difference Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature: Key Differentiators

difference between digital signature and electronic signature

Digital Signature Vs Electronic Signature: How It Works

How Digital Signature Works: Digital signature is a digital representation of a unique trait, similar to a fingerprint encoded in a document. To be connected with the document, the signer must hold a digital certificate. The certifying authority issues the digital signature.

It’s similar to having a passport. A digital certificate can be used to check the authenticity of a document and see if it has been tampered with. It’s crucial for confirming one’s identification.

A digital signature’s other notable feature is that it is used to protect digital documents. Fraudsters can falsify documents to submit online using an electronic signature, although it is practically impossible with a digital signature.

The digital certificate is tied to the signed data in a unique fingerprint when a digital signature is applied to a specific document. Because these two components of a digital signature are distinct, it is more practical than wet signatures because its origin can be verified.

Suggested Read: How to Create Digital Signature Electronically in Few Easy Steps

How Electronic Signature Works: The intention to sign a document or agreement is the most important aspect of an electronic signature. Another feature that differentiates an electronic signature from a digital signature is that it can be as simple as a mouse click, oral communication, or any other type of electronic authorization.

An electronic signature displays the signer’s intention to sign the document. It abides by contracts or other agreements reached between two parties. They become legally enforceable once both parties have agreed to enter a specific contract.

Another benefit of an electronic signature is that it aids in document authenticity verification. Once the document is signed, the parties involved in the agreement could be identified. However, because there is no digital certificate to verify an electronic document, the process is not completely secure.

Digital Signature Vs Electronic Signature: Regulation

e signature vs digital signature

Digital signature: It is widely acknowledged throughout the world and complies with all global and regional digital signature legislation. Although it is subject to local rules, digitally signed documents can be produced in court as legally binding paperwork.

Electronic signature: Legal acceptance is possible, depending on local legislation. However, it is generally not regulated.

Digital Signature Vs Electronic Signature: Verification

Digital signature: It is possible to verify a digital signature while ensuring that the document has not been tampered with. A digital certificate can be used to track down the document’s original creator. To verify if the Digital Signatures are from trustable sources, consider following the steps mentioned below:

  • Open the document using a PDF reader
  • Left-click on the field named “Digital Signature”
  • Click on “Verify Signature”
  • Click on “Properties”
  • Click on “Verify Identity”
  • Add “Contact information for certificate owner”
  • Click on “Add to List”
  • Click on “Close”
  • Click on “Verify Signature”
  • If the signature is valid, the “Validity Status” would show “Signature is valid”
  • Click on “Close”
  • The Digital Signature will now be accompanied with a check mark and it will display “Signature Valid”

Suggested Read: List of Best Open Source & Free Digital Signature Software

Electronic signature: Because the signature is not validated, it may be difficult to determine who the true owner of the document is. This puts the document’s legitimacy and integrity in jeopardy.

Digital Signature Vs Electronic Signature: Intention

esignature vs digital signature

Digital signature: A digital signature is typically used to protect a document from being tampered by unauthorized individuals. Regardless, it is legally binding and preferable since it is authentic due to its traceability to the document’s owner.

A digital signature containing the time and date is marked with a digital timestamp as proof of integrity. A timestamp indicates that the document’s contents existed at a specific point in time and remain unaltered. A timestamp from an independent, trusted authority is often used in digital signatures for increased security.

Electronic signature: An electronic signature usually indicates that the person signing the document or contract intends to do so. When people intending to get into a contract, they typically demonstrate their commitment by signing a document that becomes legally binding between them.

Electronic Signature Vs Digital Signature: Security

Digital Signature: A digital signature is made up of a number of security elements that are designed to keep the document safe. Some of the key security features of Digital Signature includes:

  • Passwords, codes, and personal identification numbers (PINs): These are used to identify and verify the identity of a signer, as well as to validate their signature. The most frequent methods for verification are email, username, and password.

  • Cryptography: Digital Signatures use a public key algorithm that encrypts and authenticates both private and public keys.

  • Checksum: It employs a long string of numbers and letters that reflect the total of correct digits in a piece of digital data, which can be compared to detect faults or modifications. A checksum can be thought of as a digital fingerprint.

  • Check for redundancy on a cyclic basis: An error-detecting verification function that detects changes to raw data in digital networks and storage devices.

  • Validation of the certificate authority (CA): By accepting, authenticating, issuing, and maintaining digital certificates, CAs function as trustworthy third parties. CAs are useful in preventing the creation of forged digital certificates.

  • Validation of the trust service provider (TSP): A TSP is an individual or legal organization that performs digital signature validation on behalf of a corporation and provides reports on the signature validation process.

  • Timestamping: Timestamping helps verify the integrity of a signature with digital time and date. It verifies that the document existed at a given period and cannot be tampered.

Electronic Signature: Because an electronic signature lacks viable security mechanisms that may be used to prevent it from being altered without authorization, it is less safe.

Suggested Read: Digital Signature Certificate (DSC): Benefits, Usage & How to Get DSC

Electronic Signature Vs Digital Signature: Purpose

Digital signature: A digital signature’s principal purpose is to protect a document from being tampered with by persons who do not have permission to do so.

Digital signatures are widely used in cryptographic protocols along with software distribution, contract management, financial transactions, etc. to avoid tampering. Some of the industries where digital signature is commonly used are:

  • Government offices
  • Legal firms
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare industry
  • Finance department
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Manufacturing sector, etc.

Electronic signature: An electronic signature is primarily used to confirm the authenticity of a document. The authors and source of the document are identified.

An electronic signature is used for obtaining consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. In almost every process, it can take the place of a handwritten signature. Here are some of the use cases of electronic signature:

  • Sales contracts
  • Purchase orders
  • Supplier agreements
  • Customer forms
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Employee onboarding
  • Parental consent
  • Age verification

Electronic Signature Vs Digital Signature: Quick Comparison

SpecificationsElectronic signatureDigital signature
RegulationNot regulatedRegulated and authorized by certification authorities
Cryptographic algorithm usageCryptographic algorithm is not usedCryptographic algorithm is used to create digital signature
PurposeUsed to verify a documentUsed to secure a document
AdvantageEasy to use, however, evidential value is lowerHigher level of authenticity
IntentionElectronic signature is used to portray user’s intention to agree to the contract’s terms and conditionsSecurity of the document
VerificationCannot be verifiedCan be verified. The signer must submit his proof of identity in order to obtain a digital signature
Visual markConsidered to be a handwritten signatureConsidered to be the user’s “fingerprint”

Suggested Read: Importance of Digital Signature in eCommerce Industry


As you can see, electronic signatures and digital signatures differ in a number of ways. We have attempted to provide a high-level overview of the various categories above while highlighting their significant differences.

The technology and processes you need to develop are influenced by the types of signatures an organization wants to collect. Despite the fact that both electronic and digital signatures are legally enforceable, the latter is favored since it is more secure.


  1. Is an electronic signature a digital signature?

    A digital signature is a sort of electronic signature that provides greater security than a standard electronic signature. When you sign a document with a digital signature, you link the fingerprint of the document to your identity.

  2. What is a digital signature and electronic signature?

    An electronic signature is a digital version of a wet link signature that is legally binding and secure but lacks code and standards. The term “digital signature” refers to a secure signature that uses electronic signatures and relies on public key infrastructure, which implies it adheres to encryption requirements.

  3. Are digital signature and electronic signature the same?

    No, digital signatures and electronic signatures are not entirely the same. A digital signature is generally used to secure papers and is certified by certifying bodies, whereas an electronic signature is frequently related to a contract that the signer agrees to and it is not regulated.

  4. What are the examples of digital signature and electronic signature?

    When you sign on the courier's digital device for receiving a package, it is an example of an electronic signature. Your identification and signing procedure utilizing biometric data, on the other hand, is an example of a digital signature.

  5. What is the difference between digital signature and electronic signature under it act 2000?

    A digital signature, as defined by section 2(1)(p) of the Information Technology Act of 2000, is the authentication of any electronic record by a person who has subscribed for a digital signature in accordance with the procedure outlined in section 3 of the same act. Digital signatures are legally recognized under Section 5 of the Information Technology Act of 2000.

    An electronic signature is defined in Sec 2 (ta) of the Information Technology Act 2000 as the authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber using the electronic technology described in the second schedule.

  6. What is the key difference between digital signature vs electronic signature?

    One of the key differences between a digital signature and an electronic signature is that the latter is used for verifying a document while the former is used for securing a document.

Related Categories: Productivity Software | Document Management Software | Digital Signature Software | PDF Software | Plugins & Extensions

Written by Kalpana Arya

Kalpana’s tech writing journey began in 2017 with Techjockey, and she truly belongs here! If she was not a technical content writer, she would have been a coder. Technical writing, especially for business software, is her passion, and she enjoys every bit of it. From addressing the pain... Read more

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