Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Harald Zeitlhofer, Bernard Golden, Elizabeth White, Jnan Dash, Liz McMillan

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
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
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.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at 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. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at 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. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.
The 15th International Cloud Expo has just expanded its conference program, to bring together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC at one location. Cloud Expo is the single show where delegates and technology vendors can meet to experience and discuss the entire world of the cloud. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to learn about the latest technology developments and solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare Corporation, a leading enabler of smart connected systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Bsquare is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NuoDB, Inc., the leader in webscale distributed database technology, has been named “Bronze 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. NuoDB was launched in 2010 by industry-renowned database architect Jim Starkey and accomplished software CEO Barry Morris to deliver a webscale distributed database management system that is specifically designed for the cloud and the modern datacenter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze 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. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.