Code Signing Certificate is a digital signature that helps software developers and companies to sign their software code or content before they make it available to the users on the Internet. The main purpose of code signing certificate is to provide assurance to the users that the software or the application being installed is from a genuine and trusted source.
Thus, it’s a certificate of assurance to ensure that your code is not being tampered by third parties to assist users to confidently use your software.
Key Benefits of Code Signing Certificate
With cyber-attacks on the rise, companies now are looking at different ways to protect their vital data and ensure greater security and privacy. Code signing certificate is one of the most efficient ways to safeguard your Internet against malware and phishing attacks.
Let’s understand more in detail about Code Signing Certificate and some of its main advantages.
Top Reasons for Using Code Signing Certificate
- Protect Integrity of Your Code
Digital Signatures comprise of proof of content integrity so that the code may not be altered or distributed by others without approval. Thus, if a hash used for signing application matches with the hash of downloaded application, then your code integrity is intact.
- Provide A Safe and Secure Experience to Customers
With the use of digital signature, you can provide a seamless experience to your users that reduces security warnings and installation failures. Additionally, it helps to maximize revenue potential and code distribution. Thus, producing and distributing applications and software using code signing certificate boosts your users’ trust in your demography and your issuing authority.
- Get Rid of Pop Up Errors
In case a software doesn’t have a code signing certificate, then the software at the time of installation will issue warning to the users through messages box. This could disrupt the user experience and discourage them from using the software.
- Provides Authentication to Your Software
As soon as the author signs the code or script of the software using digital signatures, the software is marked with a stamp of authentication. This stamp indicates that the application has not being tampered and suggests to the application users that the software’s author is trustworthy and that the application can be installed.
- Supports Different Platforms
Most of the code signing platforms offer support to multiple desktop-based platforms along with operating systems including Microsoft, Linux, Java etc. In addition, they provide mobile based platforms such as Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, BREW etc.
How Does Code Signing Certificate Work?
During code signing, a digital signature is created which tells about the person who signed the code and what kind of code was signed as well. Thus, any changes made to the code will result in alteration of the digital signature as well.
On executing the code, the computer running it checks the signature and flags an error to indicate that the software has been tampered. The computer informs the user that the software may be unsafe to use to avoid any potential issues.
It’ s a usual practice by hackers to alter the downloadable code or software. On the other hand, when a code signed signature is hashed, the changes are visible to the computer running it. Thus, any alterations to the code will result in the signature giving a different value notifying the computer that something is wrong.
Authentication is a crucial aspect of identification and is needed for distribution of software. Most users are keen to know about the person who created the code that they would be using and by enabling you to sign the software, Code signing provides authentication for you as a developer.
Now code signing is somewhat similar to SSL certificates in many ways and the process involves the following steps:
Purchase of Certificate
Based on whether you are an individual or organization, you may need to buy code signing certificates as per your business requirement. The Organization certificate is mainly used to authenticate the company whereas the individual code signing may be used for authenticating the developer.
Verification of Identity
The process is different depending on whether you are an individual or an organization, but the Certificate Authority needs to ensure about your identity. They need to ensure that are operating with good faith before providing authentication.
Install Code Signing Certificate
In this step, you need to follow the instructions and install your software on the platform that you might be using.
Sign Your Executables and Scripts
On every platform, the signing process is quite different but the place where you add the digital signature remains the same. The digital signature is just a string of data that may be hashed for displaying your identity and find out whether your code has been changed or not.
Distribution of The Signed Software
You need to distribute the software once you’ve signed the software. The users who wish to download and run the software will be shown your signature which after being hashed will verify your identity as a developer and ascertain if your code has been tampered with or not.
It’s recommended to timestamp your digital signature as most of the Code Signing Certificates have a validity period which lasts usually for 1-2 years. Timestamping informs the computer reading the signature that the software was signed at the time of the Code Signing Certificate’s validity period. s
With the availability of software online, it’s become crucial to have the right protection and security and verify its authenticity as most of them are vulnerable to attacks from hackers. Digital signatures are the best mechanism for ensuring that you are downloading your code from a legitimate source.
They provide cryptographic protection against modification made to the software and also identifies the author of the code or software. Code signing certificate assures your customers about the integrity of the code that they may be downloading from your site by ensuring that it has not been altered in any manner and is safe to use.