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.
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.
Image Source: Google
It means the software you are trying to install is been signed with 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.
Now that you know what code signing certificates are… let’s now throw some light on how they work.
All this goes on internally. If the codes, hashes, signatures, etc. do not match, you and the user will be notified.
Image Source: www.digicert.com
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.
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.
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.
Code Signing certificates are valid for 1- 3 years. You must timestamp your signed code to notify yourself when your certificate expires.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1) Allow minimum access to your private keys
2) Use Cryptographic Hardware Solutions
3) Use Time Stamping Features while signing
4) Authenticate your Code Before signing
5) Double Check your code before signing
6) Do not overuse your private key for code signing
7) Report to your CA when things go south:
8) Automation is the key
9) Improvise, Adapt and Overcome
10) Choose the right code signing certificate
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 firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to hearing from you!