What Is Code Signing Certificate & What It Do?

what is code signing certificate

Code Signing Certificate Is Similar to a Wax Seal That Assures Downloaded Software or Application Has Not Been Tampered With Since Its Signing

It’s critical for software developers that users trust the software they’ve developed. Users have the full right to know that the software they’re downloading comes from a trusted source and not any malicious third party. And a code signing certificate helps you achieve that same trust.

What is Code Signing Certificates?

A code signing certificate is a Digital Signing Certificate issued by respected Certificate Authorities like Sectigo, which contains all the information that fully identifies who has developed the software the user has downloaded or installed.

Likewise, it also assures the user that software has not been tampered with. Furthermore, a code signing certificate assures end-users that 32-bit or 64-bit software they’re downloading has not been modified in any form since its signing.

A code signing certificate is a specialized certificate that helps software developers add a digital signature to the software they’ve developed and distributed over the internet. For example, a code signing certificate allows you to bind a company’s information with a public key that mathematically integrates to its paired private key.

A code signing certificate uses the mechanism of a private and public key pair. The developer signs their software, application, or code using a private key, and the paired public key is used to authenticate that developer’s identity.

Types of Code Signing Certificate Available

Depending upon your requirement, below are the different types of code signing certificates you can choose from:

Organization Validated Code Signing Certificate

Organization Validated Code Signing Certificate, also known as a Standard Code Signing Certificate, is a good option if you’ve newly launched your software. It’s a code signing certificate that developers usually use for testing purposes. For instance, if you’re planning to launch software in the market but aren’t sure how well users will respond, then OV (Organization Validated) Code Signing Certificate is good to go.

Likewise, OV Code Signing Certificate builds Microsoft SmartScreen’s reputation organically, and it’s trusted by virtually all the platforms like operating systems and browsers.

Extended Validated Code Signing Certificate

EV (Extended Validated) code signing certificate offers all the benefits of a standard code signing certificate along with a rigorous vetting process to make sure you’re what you say you’re. It also offers an encrypted token for private keys stored within a USB device that works as two-factor authentication.

Finally, and most importantly, it allows instant bypass of Microsoft SmartScreen Warning Message by building your reputation.

Individual Code Signing Certificate

An Individual Code Signing Certificate is like a standard code signing certificate in functionalities and features, but the difference is in the vetting process. Instead of verifying an organization, a certificate authority like Sectigo verifies you as an individual software developer.

Furthermore, like any other regular code signing certificate, it signs scripts and executables using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure).

Here’s How Code Signing Works?

Usage of Code Signing Certificate is quite common among publishers and software developers. It helps in providing a unique identity by signing it using digital signature for different applications, macros, plug-ins, executables, and other files before its published. 

Likewise, code signing uses PKI technology for authenticating and securing your code, applications, and software.

Below are some common steps involved in working of code signing after your code signing certificate is issued:

  • A software developer signs their code, software, or application using a digital signature with the help of a private key provided by a code signing certificate.
  • Once a user downloads signed software, the user’s system uses a paired public key to decrypt the signature of that signed software/application.
  • For authenticating the signature, the system locates a “root” certificate along with an identity that it recognizes and trusts.
  • After locating the root certificate, the user’s system compares the hash used for signing the application towards the hash of the downloaded application.
  • Furthermore, if the system recognizes and trusts the root and it matches with the hash, then the download or execution of the software or an application will continue.
  • And if the system cannot trust the root or the hash does not match, the system will prevent the download along with the warning message, and the download will fail.

Platforms Supported by Code Signing Certificate

Below are the platform code signing certificate supports:

  • Supports applications and software of Windows 7, 8 & 10.
  • Applications that are created using Adobe Air.
  • Java applets, java applications, and jar files.
  • Mozilla’s object files.
  • Different file formats of Microsoft software like MSI, CAB, DLL, EXE, OCX.
  • Kernel software, Microsoft Silverlight applications, and XAF files. (32 – bit & 64 – bit both).

Code Signing – What It Do?

Code signing has different functionalities and features that help you understand whether you should trust the software you want to download or not from the internet. The main purpose behind code signing is to authenticate the software/application author. For instance, you’re more likely to download and install without hesitation the file received from Microsoft than any software or application file from John Doe.

Likewise, code signing allows users to see if the software/application installed is signed using a valid code signing certificate. A code signing certificate is like a wax seal on your downloaded software or application in layman’s terms. If the wax seal is in broken form, it confirms that material is compromised or tampered with. And, if it’s not broken and intact, it’s coming from the genuine sender. Likewise, if it’s intact, then the message is in its original form as sent by the sender, and the integrity of the message hasn’t been altered.

Furthermore, software installed on your computer tends to have updates in the future. When the provided updates are code signed using the same key used during their initial downloads, you can rest assured that your future updates are coming from the same trusted source, and it’s safe to be installed on your system.

Key Features & Benefits of Code Signing Certificates

Below are some of the features and benefits of code signing certificates:

  • Increased brand reputation.
  • Authenticates the source and integrity of your software, application, and code.
  • Reduced to almost no security warning that helps to build trust among your software or application users.
  • Reduced cost of maintenance.
  • Compatible with both 32-bits as well as 64-bits software/applications.

What if I Don’t Sign My Application/Software Using a Code Signing Certificate?

Software developers who don’t sign their applications and software with a code signing certificate provided from globally recognized certificate authorities like Sectigo will trigger issues like:

  • The browser displays an error message that the software is not trustworthy and vulnerable.
  • The user who tries downloading will face a Microsoft SmartScreen warning message that will block them from installing it.

Overall, it’ll be hard for users or almost impossible to trust your software, and if you’re a software developer company, you will lose your potential clients, which means a loss in revenue.

Like Other Digital Security Certificate Does a Code Signing Certificate Expires?

Yes, a code signing certificate expires once its validity period is over. For example, certificate authorities like Comodo/Sectigo offer a code signing certificate for a one-to-three-year validity. Once the validity period is over, you’ll require to renew your code signing certificate like any other digital security certificate.

Wrapping Up

If you’ve read till here, then we think it’s right to say that you may have an answer to the code signing certificate.

A code signing certificate is an essential aspect of the software development lifecycle. Likewise, signing your software using a code signing certificate will increase the trust and authenticity of your software and application, which will also help build trust with your software users.

Get Code Signig Certificate from Comodo and Sectigo CAS at loweste rate.

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