The Easiest Guide to Code Signing Certificate.

Code Signing Certificate

If your business produces software, you must digitally sign your code. But what exactly is code signing and why is it important?

Code signing certificates have a big impact on making your app secure. So, in this blog, we will talk about what code signing certificates are, how do they work, their types, FAQ, and much more!

At the end of the blog, you will find the best practices to protect your code signing certificate and how to get your code signing certificate today!

The best part? you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand any of it.

Let’s go


What is a code signing certificate? And where are they used?

When you download any software, the system asks for your permission to run the program. Something like the below-given image.

User Account Control

Image Source: Google


It means the software you are trying to install is been signed with a code signing certificate.


Code Signing Certificate


What is a code signing certificate?


Software developers digitally sign their software programs via code signing certificates. This helps the system to verify that the code received is from a reliable source. The code’s signature also includes details like your name, your company’s name, and the timestamp if desired.

And this adds an extra layer of user confidence and trust.

Below is an example of what software without a code signing certificate looks like.

Now compare both these prompts. Especially the ‘Publisher’ Name. The software with the code signing certificate clearly states that its publisher is verified. Whereas the one without, states its publisher as ‘Unknown’.

You must’ve uninstalled certain software once you found them to be from an unreliable source.

Therefore, just like you, other users drive themselves away from unreliable software too. Whereas users tend to stick with software that belongs to a reliable publisher i.e., software that consists of a code-signing certificate.

Meanwhile, users also recommend your software to others thus increasing the downloads of your software.

Investing in security measures for your IP ALWAYS pays for itself.


How do code signing certificates work?


Now that you know what code signing certificates are… let’s now throw some light on how they work.


The Verification Process of a Code Signing Certificate:

  1. You sign your software using a code signing certificate.
  2. A digital signature (Verification mark) is attached to your software and a hash mark is created.
  3. When a user downloads the file, the user’s system uses a public key to decrypt your software’s signature.
  4. The hash on the user’s downloaded file is compared with your software’s hash.
  5. When all the strings of data match, the identity is verified.

All this goes on internally. If the codes, hashes, signatures, etc. do not match, you and the user will be notified.

Code Signing Certificate

Image Source:


Buy Code Signing Certificate


Code Signing Certificates FAQ


1) Can I use SSL for Code Signing?

No, you cannot. SSL certificates and Code Signing Certificates cannot be used interchangeably. This is because SSL certs are used for a website’s identification whereas Code Signing Certificates are used for a software’s identity verification.

2) Do I need an SSL certificate before a Code Signing Certificate?

Yes. If your software’s download link is hosted on a website, you must secure your website first. Also, it makes acquiring the code signing certificate hassle-free.

3) What is the Best Code Signing Certificate?

DigiCert EV Code Signing Certificate.

Because of DigiCert’s brand value and the excellent features, regarding the number of applications to be signed, issuance time, smooth validation process, and validity it is the preferred choice for most.

4) What is the validity period of a Code Signing certificate?

Code Signing certificates are valid for 1- 3 years. You must timestamp your signed code to notify yourself when your certificate expires.


Benefits of Code Signing Certificates


1) More Trust = More Downloads

Just like you, users love to be in the safe zone too. Nobody wants another virus. Neither in the real world nor in their device. So, to avoid that, people tend to download only software that belongs to a reliable source.

Moreover, they are likely to recommend your trusted software to others thus increasing your downloads. You can build your software’s reputation organically by leveraging the code signing certificate’s authority or what we like to call ‘The Certificate of Trust’.

2) No Security Warning

Nobody likes a warning sign. With a code signing certificate, you ensure your customers a smooth installation process. Also, all the good-to-go signals enhance your software’s professional reputation along with happy customer reviews.

3) Protecting Your Intellectual Property

With the rise in fraud, malware, theft, and data breaches you must give your IP utmost security. A code signing certificate is your way to do that. By verifying your identity, you boldly state that you are keen to protect your users and that your code is authentic.

4) Detect Modified Files Easily

Modified, tampered with, or mimicking files can be easily detected when you digitally sign your codes. In fact, with a code signing certificate, you can guarantee its authority even after it expires. This is due to the time stamping features available with the same.


EV Code Signing Certificate




1) A USB Device:

When you purchase a certificate, you receive an encrypted USB device containing the private key of your certificate. You can sign your EV code signing certificate only with that physical device. This is a security measure to prevent online identity data theft.

2) Microsoft Defender SmartScreen:

Meet the trusted software standards with Microsoft Defender SmartScreen. This serves as a reputation filter, that conveys your authenticity. It reduces warning messages and reinforces user’s trust. This is possible only with EV code signing certificates.


Best Practices for Code Signing Certificates


Before we get onto the best practices for code signing certificates, you must know why they are so important

According to a study by Recorded Future, compromised private keys are sold on the dark web. It is one of the best-sellers as they are priced higher than passports and guns. Thus, this calls for a robust to-do list to protect your code-signing certificate.


The To-do List to Protect your Code Signing Certificate

1) Allow minimum access to your private keys

  • Reduce the number of computers that have access to your private keys.
  • Give access only to authorized personnel.
  • Use physical security controls to enhance the security of your USB token.

2) Use Cryptographic Hardware Solutions

  • Use FIPS 140 Level-2 certified product.

3) Use Time Stamping Features while signing

  • The timestamp uses a server (provided by the CA) to record the date and time your software was signed. This will help to determined falsified certificates. Also, you can verify your code even after the certificate is revoked or expired.

4) Authenticate your Code Before signing

  • Tool a separate process for code signing submission and approval. This is to avoid signing malicious, unreliable, or any unapproved code.
  • Keep a thorough track of your code signing activities for auditing purposes.

5) Double Check your code before signing

  • Check and confirm your code by performing a complete review.
  • Ensure QA testing to avoid unforeseen bugs or problems.
  • Do a virus scan assessment, to double-check your released code.

6) Do not overuse your private key for code signing

  • Do not sign all your codes with one single key and certificate. Keep changing it often to avoid any conflict.

7) Report to your CA when things go south:

  • Notify your CA immediately if your certificate is compromised. Report the loss of your private key immediately.

8) Automation is the key

  • Automate tasks such as certificate generation, renewal, and tracking. Do the same to get notified of your code signing certificate’s expiry date.

9) Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

  • Improvise your security measure frequently to adapt to the new measures. With this, you will overcome the risk of compromising your private key.

10) Choose the right code signing certificate

  • Use code signing certificates like DigiCert EV Code Signing Certificate. This will help you stay at the top of your security game.


How Do I Get the Best Code Signing Certificate Today?


  1. Visit
  2. Select ‘SSL Type’ in the menu
  3. Choose ‘Code Signing Certificate’
  4. Select your preferred certificate.
  5. Done! You are now ready to get your code signing certificate today!


We hope you enjoyed reading our article on code signing certificates. We think that you will find the information we put together interesting and informative. If you want to learn more about code signing certificates, please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Payments We Accept
  • PayPal
  • Direct Debit
  • Visa Payment Method
  • Master Card
  • Maestro
  • American Express