Welcome!

Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Vormetric Blog, Trevor Parsons, Sandeep Kumar, Bob Gourley

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Security, Big Data Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Four Things to Consider for E-Signature Security in the Cloud

Striking the right balance to manage risk while ensuring maximum adoption

As the number of companies adopting cloud-based solutions continues to increase, security remains top of mind for vendors, companies and their customers. Organizations of all types and sizes are opting for cloud e-signatures for many reasons including speed-to-market, agility and a lower total cost of ownership. What organizations concerned with cloud security may not know is that all e-signature solutions are not created equal; enterprise-class cloud e-signatures enable security that is beyond simply passing a security audit or obtaining certification. There are four areas organizations should keep in mind when considering SaaS e-signatures.

1. Data Protection
Recent large-scale data breaches and general concern over personal privacy in digital spaces have understandably left many wondering if their customer data is secure. E-signature solution vendors have the responsibility to ensure data is safe, which includes protecting against privacy breaches or malware attacks and ensuring that data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

In order to demonstrate that the organization has adequate controls for data protection, including technology and processes, the e-signature service host should meet the strictest certification standards like Service Organization Controls (SOC) 2, which reflects that the organization has adequate controls for data protection, including technology and processes.

The good news is that cloud computing has matured over the years and now offers trustworthy infrastructure solutions with stringent security protocols in place. However, the infrastructure used not only needs to ensure high availability, but also that the data is securely backed up and is protected against unauthorized access. The e-signature provider should be leveraging a mature, trusted and certified cloud infrastructure solution such as Amazon Web Services rather than relying on in-house servers. Finally, when evaluating an e-signature vendor, it's important to ask what security protocols and controls are in place to ensure it is keeping data safe and secure.

2. Strong Identification, Authentication & Attribution
Security and user identification, authentication and attribution are important considerations for organizations wanting to embrace cloud-based technologies. Identification is the progress of verifying someone's identity either in person or remotely, whereas authentication is the process of verifying user credentials (most often user name and password) prior to giving access to a system - in this case, e-signing. Many financial services, insurance, healthcare and government organizations require advanced authentication methods to validate the identity of signers. Examples of identification can include email, SMS text passcode, Q&A and third-party authentication services. The e-signature solution should offer a variety of ways to authenticate signers depending on:

  • The legal and compliance risk
  • The likelihood of fraud
  • The value of the process being automated

3. Tamper-Evident E-Signatures
With tamper-evident controls, all parties involved in a transaction can trust the integrity of a signed document. If the document has been adjusted even slightly, it will invalidate any signatures and alert signers to the fact that it has been tampered with.

In order to ensure these controls are properly in place, digital signature technology should be applied at each signature location, creating a digital fingerprint of the document (called a hash) that can be used at any point to verify the integrity of the electronic record. This verification should take place in the document rather than sending the use to the vendor's website to validate the signature. Since e-signatures are only as good as the security that protects them, it's important that any attempt to tamper with any part of the document, for example adding or deleting words or replacing pages, should be visible. An enterprise-class e-signature solution should demonstrate this tampering by invalidating all the signature areas within the document.

4. Detailed Evidence Through an Embedded Audit Trail
The hashing of information into the document not only secures a document but it also creates a reliable and consistent audit trail of who signed, in what order, at what time and in what locations. Further, using e-signatures built on digital signature technology, the audit trail is securely embedded into the document. That means that all electronic signatures, the time stamping and the audit trails would be embedded directly within the document and not stored separately in the cloud or ‘logically' associated in a vault or proprietary database.

Organizations should have access to this data without having to depend on a vendor or its systems for access. This type of vendor independence is a concern for many organizations looking at cloud applications and gives users peace of mind that their valuable business records will remain in their control for as long as their retention policies require. An embedded audit trail means your e-signed records will work seamlessly with your content management systems or your chosen system of record.

When it comes to electronic signatures, taking a multi-pronged approach will ensure the highest level of security for documents and data that pass through a cloud e-signature solution. At the same time, it's important to choose an enterprise-class e-signature solution that offers additional security measures like embedding all data associated with the transaction into the document, reliably reproducing that data as evidence in the event of a dispute and enabling the reduction of risk around non-compliance. Ultimately, this multilayer approach to cloud e-signature security will foster customer confidence and protect an organization's reputation.

As organizations ponder these security features and requirements, it is highly recommended that they apply a level of controls and safeguards comparable to the paper process. Some organizations have a tendency to believe that putting a process online requires stricter security, however security and usability can at times be opposing forces. Organizations must strike the right balance so to manage risk while ensuring maximum adoption.

More Stories By Tommy Petrogiannis

Tommy Petrogiannis is CEO & Co-Founder of Silanis. As President and CEO, he is responsible for setting the company strategy and vision, building corporate culture and ensuring the entire team is working towards the corporate goal of delivering the ‘best possible customer experience’.

Within Silanis, Tommy has inspired a deeply-rooted culture of charitable giving and community involvement, supporting causes proposed by employees as well as those to which the company has a longstanding commitment. These have included the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Tiny Survivors Program, Canderel Cancer Run, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Kids Code Program and others.

Tommy’s two decades of IT experience include positions at Compaq and Matrox Electronics.

He holds a BS in engineering from Concordia University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...