What is a Digital Signature?

Understanding digital signatures, and how they work

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What are digital signatures?

A digital signature is a set of encryption protections used to determine the authenticity of a document or software. In simpler terms, a digital signature is a complex way to verify that a document hasn’t been tampered with during transit between the sender and signer. Digital signatures can be used to identify and verify individual signers and ensure the security and integrity of the data in question.

It’s possible that you’ve heard the terms digital signature and electronic signature. While most people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. An electronic signature refers to a protected and legally binding online signature. A digital signature refers to a complex method for authenticating a document. In simple terms, to create a digital signature is a way to verify that a document hasn’t been tampered with during transit between sender and signer.

For the most part, when searching for how to create a digital signature, people are in actual fact looking at how to create an electronic signature. HelloSign enables you to do both, at the same time.


HelloSign offers a simple, easy-to-use and free eSignature software that allows you to digitally sign documents in PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more with digital signatures embedded in them for security and protection.

How do digital signatures work?

Digital signatures work using public key cryptography. Two mathematically linked keys are generated, one public and one private. The individual creating the digital signature uses the private key, encrypting any signature-related data, whereas the signer’s public key decrypts the data. Digital signatures are authenticated only when the recipient is able to open the document with the signer’s public key. If the recipient is not able to open the document, that is a failsafe sign that there is a problem with the document or signature.

Digital Signature FAQs

How do you create a digital signature?

A digital signature is created when HelloSign’s eSignature tool provides a one-way hash of the electronic data to be signed, a fixed-length string of letters and / or numbers generated by an algorithm. This encrypted hash is the digital signature.

What are the benefits of digital signatures?


The main benefit of digital signatures is security. They ensure that a document cannot be altered without the recipient knowing about it, and that signatures are legitimate. The use of security features associated with HelloSign digital signatures such as PINs, passwords, asymmetric cryptography, audit trails and timestamps, ensures that documents sent and received for signature with HelloSign are as secure as can be.


What are digital signatures used for?


Digital signatures are used primarily to streamline processes, speed up the document signing lifecycle and improve document integrity. Industries such as government, healthcare, financial services and cryptocurrency platforms all utilize digital signatures to enhance security of highly sensitive information.

What’s the difference between an electronic and digital signature?


While most people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. An electronic signature refers to a protected and legally binding online signature. A digital signature refers to a complicated method for authenticating a document.


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