Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, Kevin Benedict, Richard Moulds

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.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizonenterprise.com to learn more.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
"In my session I spoke about enterprise cloud analytics and how we can leverage analytics as a service," explained Ajay Budhraja, CTO at the Department of Justice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
“We are starting to see people move beyond the commodity cloud and enterprises need to start focusing on additional value added services in order to really drive their adoption," explained Jason Mondanaro, Director of Product Management at MetraTech, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
"We are automated capacity control software, which basically looks at all the supply and demand and running a virtual cloud environment and does a deep analysis of that and says where should things go," explained Andrew Hillier, Co-founder & CTO of CiRBA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
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. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at 15th Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, Vice President, Product Strategy of LogMeIn's Xively IoT Platform, will show you how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
All too many discussions about DevOps conclude that the solution is an all-purpose player: developer and operations guru, complete with pager for round-the-clock duty. For most organizations that is not the way forward. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Golden, Vice President of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss how to achieve the agility and speed of end-to-end automation without requiring an organization stocked with Supermen and Superwomen.