How to Digitally Sign Your Visual Studio Software?

Digitally Sign Visual Studio Software

Visual Studio is one of the popular development platforms from Microsoft for building software applications. But this popularity does seem to attract several problems, especially the prying eyes of cybercriminals. They are always ready to take advantage and malign your software by finding vulnerabilities.

However, there’s a way for software companies to safeguard their executables built on Microsoft Visual Studio. Through digital code signing certificates, organizations and individual software developers can secure their applications.

As per one report, only 28% of companies have consistently enforced a defined code signing certificate security process. Further, the report also mentions that 50% of companies are concerned that cybercriminals are using forged or stolen credentials to breach security.

The code signing process has become an important asset for enterprises. So, if you plan to create software using Microsoft Visual Studio, you’ll need to digitally sign your executables. Here’s how you can do so:

How Can You Digitally Code Sign Your Software Build Using MS Visual Studio?

Once you obtain the Visual Studio Code Signing Certificate from a trusted CA, you can install it and digitally sign your software by following the below steps:

  • Open Solution Explorer in your Visual Studio software, right-click on the project, and choose properties.
  • Click on the Signing tab and toggle on the Sign the ClickOnce Manifest checkbox
  • Now click on the Select from the Store to select the Code Signing Certificate
  • Once selected, specify the timestamp and start signing your Visual Studio Software

How Does the Code Signing Work for Visual Studio?

Code signing has become important for individual software developers and companies. Since hackers can easily mask themselves to plant malware on users’ devices, the code signing process helps assure these attacks do not occur.

Whenever a user downloads software, the operating system does check for the legitimacy of the application code through a code signing certificate. This certificate gives the OS a guarantee that the software is from a legitimate source and hasn’t been tampered with.

If the digital certificate isn’t found, the OS will give out a warning to stop users from installing the application. Thus, the digital certificate sign for Visual Studio becomes important and includes several steps.

The process starts with creating unique key pairs which are based on public-private key pairs. The Visual Studio code signing certificate uses the cryptographic public key, which is created by the developer and sent to a reliable CA for verification.

The certificate authority will then do vetting to verify that the key belongs to the software creators and return it with a code signing certificate. CAs have the responsibility of signing and generating the certificate for your Visual Studio applications.

The public key returned by the CA confirms the trustworthiness of the software developer and their software product. Now that you have the key and code signing certificate, the software code is passed through the hash function.

It’s a one-way function and turns the text into arbitrary values that can’t be reversed and are compared with the data when sending them to consumers. The output of this is encrypted using the private key and not the public key because, as a developer, you want the consumers to read the message but not hamper it.

This output is then combined with a code signing certificate and hash function to place inside the software before users can download it. When they download and install your software, the OS will check for authenticity first, and once it’s confirmed, it is decrypted with the public key.

Lastly, the hash function inside the software code is checked and compared with the output sent by the developer. Once this matches perfectly, the OS will proceed with the installation. This is how the code signing certificate works for the Visual Studio software.

How to Obtain Code Signing Certificate for Visual Studio Software?

The only way to obtain a digital code signing certificate is to get it from renowned certificate authorities (CA) like Sectigo, or Comodo. You can also get your Visual Studio Code Signing Certificates from distributors as they source the same certificate from renowned CAs, and sell them at affordable rates.

However, before the trusted CAs issue any certificate for your Visual Studio software, they’d thoroughly inspect your organization. They would conduct extensive vetting to ensure that your company is legitimate and everything is in order to provide a digitally signed certificate for Visual Studio software.

Once you meet all their Visual Studio code signing certificate requirements and validation needs, they’ll issue a certificate. After that, you can install it on the intended software stored on the intended server.

What Else is the use of the Visual Studio Code Signing Certificate?

Another usage of the Visual Studio code signing certificate is when updating your software applications. Hackers can easily attack software updates and compromise the integrity of your code. If they get successful, they can easily upload malware to any device that receives your Visual Studio software updates.

Digitally signed software with code signing certificates helps defend against such attacks. As long as the private key is not compromised, you can use it to sign software updates to ensure only you can provide the Visual Studio software updates.

Features of the Code Signing Certificate for Visual Studio

  • Supports the secure hash algorithm SHA-2
  • Security for 32 and 64-bit kernel mode and user mode through digital signature
  • Compatible with software developed on all Visual Studio versions
  • Provision of time stamping for every signature
  • Unlimited signing
  • Follows all security requirements needed to eliminate or reduce the warning messages

Final Words

Since software developers widely use Microsoft Visual Studio, it comes under cybercriminals’ radar. But with proper measures, developers can ensure software authenticity while preventing unknown publisher warnings.

Further, developers can utilize the code signing certificate to prevent any misconduct and security threats. By digitally code signing software, you can minimize the risks and ensure users that you are a verified Visual Studio publisher. Henceforth, it helps boost trust in your brand and improves your chances of being successful.

Code Signing is Must for developers to sign their software & applications to enhance the software authenticity and boost software downloads. Let’s Code Sign with Visual Code Signing Certificate at the lowest price, $199.99/yr.

visual studio software signing
Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.