Unlike signing on paper, there are several ways to sign online and not all benefit from the same level of security or have the same legal value.
eIDAS defines three types of electronic signature:
Simple electronic signature
The most common version is the signature at the bottom of your email. There is no guarantee that the content of your email hasn’t been modified or of the identity of the person sending it.
Advanced electronic signature (AdES)
With an advanced electronic signature, the signer is identifiable and his/her signature uniquely linked to the signed document in such a way that any modification of the content can be detected.
Although AdES considerably raises the level of security, an advanced electronic signature cannot guarantee optimal reliability.
Qualified electronic signature (QES)
This is the signature with the highest level of security. It is also the only electronic signature type to have special legal status in EU member states. Qualified Trust Service Providers, such as Belgian Mobile ID for itsme®, are allowed to provide Qualified Electronic Signatures and are recognized in every EU member state.
What makes QES so special?
In addition to the benefits of an AdES, the Qualified Electronic Signature binds the identity of the signer to the signature with a qualified certificate issued by a Qualified Certification Authority. The signature can only be created using the signer’s device, because he/she controls his/her personal key and each signature is unique, confidential and protected against counterfeiting.
Thanks to those measures, the Qualified Electronic Signature of itsme® is extremely reliable. But there is more. Each digital signature has also a different legal value.
Should a party dispute a Qualified Electronic Signature, the burden of proof lies with the signer. For simple and advanced electronic signatures, the burden of proof is reversed: it lies with the party that initiated the signature, the company that has send out the document to its client.