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E signature technology speeds up a variety of documentation workflows, reducing delays during the review process and saving money on postage, paper and faxing. It also decreases the time it takes to distribute documents to signers and improves the ease at that they can be signed from remote locations.

A standard electronic signature is a picture of a handwritten or typed name that is attached to digital documents. These types of electronic signatures don’t include encryption or authentication features or verify the identity of the signer. A more sophisticated eSignature uses verification technology to create a hash of the signature and links it with a public key that identifies the signer’s identification. The recipient is able to decrypt the hash and compare it with the public key and ensure that the document has not been altered since it was signed.

A company can enhance the security of electronic signatures through additional verification methods, such as passwords as well as two factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated types are employed when there is a greater risk that the validity of the signature could be challenged.

Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. These records may require a longer life period and it is vital to ensure that a record’s integrity is protected during any migration or upgrade processes. NARA’s guidance on records scheduling can assist agencies in determining proper retention period for these records.