What is Code Signing Certificate?

Code Signing Certificate is a security mechanism that makes executable files tamper-proof. It enables the software publishers to hash and encrypt the source code and add their signature to it. Furthermore, Code Signing Certificates utilize cryptographic keys, a significant pillar in code encryption and verifying software legitimacy by the system.

Moreover, publishers also use it to prevent Unknown Publisher Warning during installation at the end-user's system.

Types of Code Signing Certificate

You can use a Code Signing Certificate with the following variations.

Standard Code Signing Certificate

Standard Code Signing Certificate is for organizations, aiding them to sign and timestamp their software. Certificate Authorities and security professionals also called it an OV Code Signing Certificate. When any firm has to release an application, it’s mandatory for them to utilize a standard digital certificate.

With a Standard Code Signing Certificate’s usage, companies avail following advantages:
  • Securing source code with the help of the latest hashing and encryption algorithms.
  • Assuring a smooth installation and zero Unknown Publisher Warning to customers.
  • Brand name optimization across multiple platforms, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Listing of applications on different legitimate online app stores and repositories.

EV Code Signing Certificate

Extended Validation Code Signing Certificate gets used by organizations with additional security requirements. Similar to Standard Code Signing Certificate, it also performs hashing and encryption on the code. However, the primary difference comes from validation and private key storage.

When a Certificate Authority issues an EV Code Signing Certificate, the firm gets an instant boost to its reputation. As a result, their software seamlessly eliminates the Unknown Publisher and Defender SmartScreen Warning.

Extended Validation Code Signing Certificates provide the following benefits:
  • Certificate Authorities provide a private key in a hardware token or USB drive.
  • You don’t have to worry about installation warnings, as it bypasses all of them.
  • Your software instantly aligns with the necessary standards and guidelines.
  • Unauthorized actors get prevented from accessing private key and making alterations.

Self-Signed Code Signing

To self-sign software, you don’t need to purchase a Code Signing Certificate. And as the name suggests, you are the only authority in it, trusting the software. Primarily, developers such a signing mechanism for software testing and functionality checking purposes.

In addition, systems don’t allow self-signed files to run, as they only have information about recognized Certificate Authorities. And if you launch your software with a self-signed Code Signing Certificate, there’s an assurance of facing warnings, alerts, and blockage.

Hence, Self-Signed Code Signing Certificate is only beneficial for testing and internal purposes.

Buy Code Signing Certificates

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Starting June 1, 2023, code signing certificate keys must be stored on a hardware security module or token that’s certified as FIPS 140 Level 2, Common Criteria EAL 4+, or equivalent.

File Types You Can Secure with Standard and EV Code Signing Certificate

  • .exe (Executable File)
  • .dll (Dynamic Link Library)
  • .ocx (OLE Control Extension)
  • .cab (Cabinet)
  • VB Macro
  • .msi (Microsoft Software Installer)
  • .xap (Application Package)
  • .air and .airi (Adobe AIR Application)
  • Window Drivers
  • .jar (Java Code)
  • .ps1 (PowerShell Scripts)

How Code Signing Works?

Before utilizing the Code Signing Certificate, the software publisher must submit a Certificate Signing Request to the CA. And after validating the developer’s details, CA issues the digital certificate. Further, the publisher uses the certificate and associated cryptographic keys to encrypt the source code.

Following the signing procedure, software gets distributed among stakeholders. In addition, once the software gets signed, it holds the information about the chain of trust.

And when an end-user initiates the installation, the system verifies the software’s legitimacy by analysing the publisher's signature. Moreover, it also checks the root CA details through the chain of trust. If the root CA details match information in the built-in database, the device resumes the installation.

How Code Signing Works

Accurate Reasons to Avail a Code Signing Certificate

  • Comply with mandatory industry and security standards
  • Accelerate the download of your software/application
  • Establish yourself as an authorized publisher across platforms
  • Build customer trust in your brand
  • Prevents unauthorized modifications in the software
  • Provides a zero-warning installation experience

Comparison Between Standard Vs EV Code Signing

Organization Validated Code Signing VS Extended Validation Code Signing
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Standard verification of applicant's identity and authorization. Validation Process Rigorous validation of applicant's identity, authority, and operational existence.
Organic SmartScreen Reputation MS SmartScreen Instant SmartScreen Reputation
Helps protect against malware and tampering by verifying the authenticity and integrity of code. Protection against Malware Provides enhanced protection against malware and tampering through rigorous validation and verification processes.
Only older Windows 10 drivers are included Microsoft Windows Compatibility Accessible to kernel-mode drivers and Windows 10+ drivers
Provides a basic level of trust to users. Level of Trust Offers a higher level of trust and confidence to users.

Photo ID and a phone number are required for individual developers.

And for Organizations, Business registration information and a public phone number

Paperwork Required Business registration information includes the actual office address, years of operation, and a public phone number.
Starting with $210.99/Year Pricing Starting with $274.99/Year
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Single and Cheap Code Signing Certificate for All Your Platforms

Want to sign multiple software for multiple platforms? Code Signing Certificate provided by CAs Sectigo, Certera, DigiCert & Comodo is compatible with various popular platforms. So get a Code Signing Certificate issued and start signing your software for all the popular platforms.

Starting at $199.99/yr

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I purchased a code signing certificate from SignMyCode. Then realized that I needed an EV certificate. Customer support was extremely quick and service-minded, and I could easily upgrade.

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My best experience ever purchasing a code signing certificate. I love the certificate; the token is delivered to a central portal where I can find it anytime.

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