Using Digital signatures
The increase in the need for security in electronic documentation has bought about the development of Digital Signatures. A fundamental requirement to preserve the authenticity and integrity of an author’s documents is met with this technology.
For the form designer, it’s possible to certify documents as well as sign them. This process ensures that the form is certified by the author, but also dictates the changes that can be made when the form is completed by recipients.
For the form recipient, in the same way that a hardcopy form can be signed, e.g. to authorise or to agree to terms and conditions, the recipient can verify and then digitally sign documents previously certified or signed by an author.
From the form designer’s perspective, signing functionality has to be built into PDF Forms by creating a Signature form field (see below), irrespective of whether you are certifying the PDF form or not.
To create a Digital Signature field in your PDF Form:
Select the Signature option from the Forms toolbar.
Move your cursor to the location for your button and click once. The signature field is displayed, i.e.
Right-click on the field and choose Form Field Properties from the drop-down menu.
Overwrite the current Name with a new internal name (without spaces) for the form field.
When the form is published using Publish PDF (Standard toolbar), the signature field is activated but remains unsigned, i.e.
Double clicking on this field permits certifying and digital signing as described below.
Certifying your PDF document
As a document’s author, you can attest to the contents of the PDF form when published, and also specify the types of changes permitted (if any) on the document.
A Digital ID containing a signature must be set up to allow your PDF Form to be certified; this ID is shared with your PDF form recipients in a certificate. You may already have an existing ID stored in a file, on a server, or a connected device. If not, you can create a new self-certified digital ID storing it as a PKCS#12 Digital ID or in Windows Certificate Store. A new ID can also be purchased either from a third-party signature handler (e.g., Verisign).
To certify a PDF Form:
Save your form as a PDF with Publish PDF (Standard toolbar).
Right-click the Signature field in the displayed PDF Form and select Certify with Visible Signature.
If you don’t have a Digital ID, follow the on-screen instructions to obtain a valid ID.
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If you already have a Digital ID:
Select a signature profile from the Sign As drop-drop list.
Choose an allowable action for the PDF after certifying such as Annotations, form fill-in, and digital signatures.
On republishing, the PDF form is certified.
Typically, a PDF Form previously certified and circulated by the author, can be signed by one or more recipients to indicate acknowledgment, acceptance of the forms’ contents, etc. Once signed, the signature field is updated to reflect that the field has been signed.
For more information about signing PDFs, see Adobe Reader (or equivalent product’s) Help.