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E signature technology speeds up a number of document workflows, reducing the time in the review process, and saving money on postage and paper as well as faxing. It also reduces the amount of time needed to distribute documents to signers and makes it easier for them to be signed remotely.

A basic electronic signature is a digital representation of a handwritten or typed name. These types of electronic signatures do not have encryption or authentication features or verify the signer’s identity. A more advanced eSignature utilizes verification technology to generate a hash of the signature, and connects it to a public key that identifies the signer’s identification. The recipient is able to decrypt the hash and match it to the public key to ensure that the document has not been altered since it was signed.

A company can enhance the security of electronic signatures through additional methods of verification, like passwords, two factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated types of eSignatures are employed in cases where there is a higher risk that the signature’s validity is challenged.

Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. They may require a longer software cycle, and it is crucial to ensure the integrity of a record when it comes to upgrading or migration processes. NARA’s guidelines for scheduling records can help agencies to determine the appropriate period of retention for these records.