Can an Electronic Signature Be Forged?

James Lintzer |

Cybercrime is on the rise. Experts predict it will cost the world $8 trillion — yes, trillion with a T — in 2023. 

Despite this steady rise in cyberattacks, organizations are still moving everything online because it’s simpler, more efficient and more user-friendly. That has dramatic implications for e-signatures. 

With the rise in crime, it’s fair to ask whether e-signatures are a safe option? Should individuals and companies stick to wet signatures, even if it slows business processes? 

In this article, we’ll answer all those questions and more. 

So, Can Electronic Signatures Be Forged? 

Technically, yes they can. There’s always a potential for forgery because as technology advances, so do hacking tactics. Nothing is 100% private or secure on the internet. Someone with access to your email could eSign a document on your behalf, or a company could create a falsified document with your forged signature already present. 

However, that doesn’t mean e-signatures are unsafe. There are just as many opportunities — if not more — for a person to forge a wet signature, which is why many organizations prefer e-signatures with all their security features. 

eSignatures vs. Wet Signatures: Which One Has Better Protection?

The answer is simple: e-signatures offer more protection. 

Wet signatures have always been relatively easy to forge. People just need a few minutes alone with a document — and a bit of skill in copying signatures — and they can forge someone’s signature. That’s why notaries exist: to ensure that a wet signature isn’t forged. But even notary signatures and seals can be forged by an expert. 

In today’s world of constant information sharing, someone can easily access a document, print it out and forge a signature. Or they could pick up a forgotten form at a printer or left out on a desk and sign it on someone else’s behalf. 

Physical documents can easily be lost, misplaced and stolen without anyone realizing it because there’s no tracking information or trail to show where the form was and at what time.

But with e-signatures, there is. That’s what makes them so much safer than wet signatures. 

Safety Features Protecting eSignatures 

For an electronic signature provider to be legitimate, it must comply with the E-SIGN Act and the UETA. These two laws spell out the requirements for legally binding e-signatures and make four main stipulations:

  • An electronic signature is valid only if all parties have the intent to sign. 
  • All parties must agree to complete business transactions electronically. 
  • The electronic signature provider must maintain an associated record of the e-signature.
  • All parties must have access to e-signature records.

With these basic stipulations, e-signatures are more protected than wet signatures — especially when considering the only true protection against wet signature forgery is having an eye witness. What’s more, these e-signature requirements render most forgery attempts null and void. 

We mentioned above that a company or individual could put your “signature” on a document without even sending it to you, but that would violate the first and second points above. Plus, any valid e-signature provider would ensure a record showing the document never arrived in your inbox. 

Even if someone accessed your email and signed a document on your behalf, the e-signature provider has a record of the signing process, which usually shows an IP address and location. That record could easily prove that someone else signed the document instead of you, which indicates fraud. 

The Technology That Underpins jSign

Each e-signature provider must comply with the E-SIGN Act and the UETA. How they are compliant depends a lot on the technology they use. Take jSign, for example. 

jSign uses blockchain technology to ensure authentic signatures and protect documents from any tampering. It also offers things like two-factor authentication, proof of signing and audit trails so you can be sure the right people are signing your documents. These safety features also give you protection in the event of any disputes or legal cases. 

Blockchain Technology

While most commonly known for its use in cryptocurrency, blockchain enables companies to track any type of assets — whether tangible or intangible — and record transactions. 

As an immutable ledger, blockchain is tamper-free technology. No bad actors can change a document recorded on the shared ledger, not even to correct an error. This protected database technology also logs and timestamps every action within a document, providing a detailed step-by-step history. 

With its enhanced protection, blockchain seems like a no-brainer for e-signature solutions. Yet most don’t use it to protect their clients’ documents. jSign is one of the few e-signature platforms that offer superior protection with tamper-free blockchain technology. 

Audit Trails

Blockchain does more than prevent false signatures and fraudulent activity. It also enables detailed audit trails so you can track everything that happens on the document.

jSign incorporates the audit trails into its platform so you can see who is signing your documents and when. You can check events like:

  • Document observers
  • Signature status
  • Signee names
  • Signing method (draw, type, upload, etc.)
  • Attachments
  • Timestamps

Whether you want to track preapproval letters, contracts or loan applications, you can do so right from your computer or mobile device. Just log in to jSign’s cloud-based software, and you can immediately access detailed information about all your documents. 

Don’t want to constantly check the platform for updates? That’s not a problem either since jSign sends you email notifications and alerts when there’s new activity in the document. 

Proof of Signing

Yet another perk of using blockchain technology is that jSign can provide you with a Certificate of Completion for every document. Before you write this off as just a simple virtual receipt that most e-signature providers offer, understand that it’s much more than that. 

jSign’s Certificate of Completion combines the generic e-receipt with blockchain-based technology to offer in-depth information about signing history and authenticity. It gives you the legal backing to protect yourself and your company should any issues arise in the future. 

The Certificate of Completion includes the following:

  • Unique document ID
  • Document details, like the number of signees and complete history
  • Blockchain-based timestamp
  • Unique block ID
  • QR code to see the document’s history and latest changes
  • Each signee’s location (with latitude and longitude information)
  • Every signee’s IP address, browser and device

Additional Protection

Blockchain aside, jSign offers extra safety features to protect your organization against any fraudulent activity. For example, it includes two-factor authentication. Anyone who receives a document to sign must verify their identity by confirming a code sent to their mobile number or email. 

You can also set stipulations for each signee. For example, if you want to ensure someone signs from their home office, you can enable the location restriction feature on the jSign platform. Then the person can only eSign from their home, which helps assure you that they are truly the one signing.

e-Signatures: The Key to Safe and Streamlined Workflows

With the rise of cyberattacks and fraud, it’s completely understandable to wonder if e-signatures are truly safe. The good news is that with the right provider, electronic signatures can actually be virtually completely tamper-free. 

jSign’s blockchain-based technology can offer you peace of mind when sending documents out for e-signatures. With the timestamps, audit trails and location restrictions, you can guarantee the signatures are authentic and valid. 

Plus, the easy-to-use digital platform makes the entire signing process much more simple. There’s no need to wait for an in-person meeting for everyone to sign at once. Nor do you need to keep track of looseleaf papers with sensitive information. jSign simplifies the process for you so you can focus on what truly matters: growing your business. See for yourself how jSign works by signing up for a 14-day free trial

James Lintzer
Senior Marketing Manager

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