What is Code Signing Certificate and How to Use It?

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Code Signing certificates

Most people don’t generally think much about their internet security and privacy. However, with the rising prominence of malware and phishing attacks, your personal details like bank accounts, social security, etc, can be easily compromised.

Code Signing is an effective means of ensuring your internet safety and privacy. You can read more about it in this article.

What is Code Signing Certificate?

Code Signing is a process used to ensure that the code/script of a software remains secure, allowing the author to share the content over the internet without fear of its code being tampered by third parties. As such, a Code Signing Certificate indicates that the content or software being shared by an author or developer is legitimate and trustworthy.

Why to use Code Signing Certificate?

There are a number of convincing reasons to start using code signing certificates. The following are some of the most important ones.

Authentication

After the author signs the code or script of the software using the code signing technology, the software is marked with a stamp of authentication displaying the author’s name and website and an indication that the application has not been tampered with. It indicates to users of the application that the software’s author is trustworthy and they can install the application.

Elimination of Popup Errors

If a software doesn’t carry a code signing certificate, browsers will warn users about it via popup alerts and messages. This could interfere with the user experience and dissuade them from using the software.

Security

MITM (Men in the Middle) attacks are extremely common over the internet. When software or applications are shared online, third parties can intercept them to tamper with the code or view its contents. However, if the file has been digitally signed with the certificate, they cannot access or tamper with it, ensuring that your files and your online reputation remain secure.

Trust

Producing and circulating software and applications with code signing certificate increases the user’s trust within their demography and with the issuing authority, thus helping build a reliable brand reputation.

How to use Code Signing Certificate?

After purchasing a code signing certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority, you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: You will receive an email with installation link for the new or reissued code signing certificate. You have to create or reissue the certificate within 30 days of receiving the email.
Step 2: Open the provided link in your browser and it will be installed in your certificate store for Windows or your Mac’s login keychain.
Step 3: Click on ‘Generate Certificate’ to create and install the code signing certificate.
Step 4: With the code signing certificate installed, you can sign your own code.
Step 5: The code signing certificate can also be exported as a .pfx file for Windows and a .p12 file for Mac.

What happens when a Code Signing Certificate expires?

Code signing certificates remain valid for up to 4 years. However, even after their expiration, only your ability to create new signatures is hampered. Your old signatures remain valid and active. When this happens, you need to simply reissue the certificate by following the aforementioned steps.

What is the best Code Signing Certificate Authority?

The three most popular code signing certificate authorities are:

Out of these, Comodo is clearly the superior offer because it’s the cheapest and has the strongest warranty amount of up to $1.5 million.

Other Important Resources for Code Signing

Building Up iOS App Identity with Code Signing