Secure Shopping

The Need and Benefits of Code Signing Certificates

July 21, 2015 | By Editor 

The online world is rife with risky behavior. Anything that ends up being online, runs the risk of being stolen, tampered with, or entirely destroyed. Unless you provide an insulation for every valuable information you put online, it’s subject to some kind of misuse.

This is especially true for businesses and professionals that trade their crafts on the virtual space, because savvy customers won’t even download applications that come with warning messages such as “Unidentified Publisher” during the installation. Code Signing Certificates are the security mechanism that offer help in this regard.

What are Code Signing Certificates?

The simplest way to understand Code Signing Certificates, and the work they do, is by comparing them with a real-life scenario.

Imagine shopping an over-the-counter drugs from your local pharmacy. Whether it is an aspirin or a nasal pump for asthma patients, there are many brands for you to choose from. Now when it comes to trusting a medicine by its label, whom do you trust the most – the ones with approved stamps from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the generic ones that don’t have any endorsements? Most likely you will choose the one with the seal from FDA (if it’s not ridiculously pricey) for the trust and liability it evokes, right?

It is no different when it comes to distributing content online. Professional developers who come up with new codes, macros, components for an existing software, configuration files, etc. frequently make their content available for their users to download. Code Signing Certificates digitally sign and validate those codes and make it viable for users to download.

If an online content is unprotected, hackers can potentially harm the codes and as a result, the end users will either be deprived of using the intended content or will be victims of viruses unleashed through the tampered file. This is especially true if the source owners of such files are using web scripting codes like Active X controls, Java applets, etc. whose source codes are not always obvious.

Code Signing Certificates prevent users from downloading compromised files or applications. Even if a signed application is compromised after its publication, the users will get a warning message that lets them know that the origin and legitimacy of the file cannot be verified.

On the other hand, when someone downloads a digitally signed content that has remained untouched by intruders, your users will get to see your (or your company’s) name instead of the “Unidentified Publisher” warning message.

Some well-known Code Signing Certificate providers use the digital “shrink-wrap” technique to secure a content’s online distribution. These certificates employ a unique cryptographic hash to seal the code with its creator’s identity.

Additionally, you can time-stamp your codes so that, in the future, users will come to know that you had undergone a code signing validation even after your certificate expires. Most of the Code Signing Certificates from reputed CA providers offer the same encryption strength as SSL certificates do.

Code Signing Certificate is not only a choice, but a requirement sometimes if you are trying to push your content to the mass audience. Microsoft requires digital signatures for all hardware drivers for Windows Vista and later. All in all, code signing is imperative for distributing your content online because it builds a layer of trust to the installation process.

Code Signing Certificate

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