Have you ever downloaded a software or an app on your computer? Did you know that some of them have a special digital signature that ensures they are safe and from a trusted source? That digital signature is called a Windows Code Signing Certificate, and it plays an important role in keeping your computer and personal information secure. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Windows Code Signing Certificate in a way that is easy to understand, even for 8th graders! So, buckle up and get ready to learn about this important cybersecurity feature.
Code signing certificates are digital securities just like SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certificates. The one major difference between both these security solutions is that SSL certificates successfully secure web communications whereas code-signing certificates are used to secure software codes. The main motto of both these digital securities is to refrain hackers from stealing or tampering with the data/code.
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What is a Code Signing Certificate?
Code signing certificates are used by web developers and software personnel to secure their codes. These certificates permit the developers/publishers to digitally sign their web applications, codes, drivers, executables, scripts, and other software programs.
This digital signature placed on codes helps in establishing user trust and in enhancing user confidence because the end-users are assured that the applications/code that they are downloading are reliable and authentic.
In short, the existence of these certificates permits the safe distribution of software since it proves that these codes are not compromised by intruders.
When a software code is code signed, it will display a digital signature, the name of the company, and a timestamp (optional).
What are the Types of Code Signing Certificates?
Code signing certificates come in varied types. They are:
- Standard Certificate or OV (Organization Validation) Code Signing Certificates.
- EV (Extended Validation) Code Signing Certificates
Example: Comodo Individual Code Signing Certificates, Sectigo EV Code Signing Certificates, etc.
What is a Windows Code Signing Certificate?
Microsoft Windows Code Signing Certificate is a code signing certificate that is specially used for digitally signing Windows operating system codes. Many SSL certificate providers and resellers offer this Microsoft code signing certificate at nominal rates.
Comodo, GeoTrust, Sectigo, etc. are the CAs (Certificate Authorities) that offer these Windows code signing certificates for signing the codes and ensuring authentic content to their users. The end-users can feel its presence and know that the code can be trusted and is reliable for download as well as installation.
Web developers who wish to display their applications/codes on the Windows operating system should purchase and secure their codes with these certificates. This not only helps them in establishing themselves as trusted publishers in the eyes of the end-users but also helps enhance their revenue since users can download and install such codes with ease.
Benefits of Windows Code Signing Certificate:
- It helps in building user trust and in enhancing their confidence by maintaining code integrity and authenticity.
- It helps in determining the publisher’s identity.
- It helps in raising the graph of the number of downloads.
- It creates a trustworthy image of the publisher/software developer and improves their reputation.
- It is compatible with all Windows OS.
- It prevents warning alerts when users download software signed using these certificates.
- Microsoft Azure Cloud platform has specific security requirements and Microsoft Authenticode code signing certificates comply with all of them.
When software is unsigned, it may be prone to code tampering, malware, spyware, or any other malicious injections. Hence end-users are very cautious and refrain from downloading unsigned code.
Even security warnings like “Unknown Publisher” are displayed to prevent users from downloading the software/application.
When software is code-signed with a Windows code-signing certificate, these warnings are eliminated and the publisher’s name is displayed. This gives a sense of security to the users and helps in gaining their trust. It also helps in enhancing the reputation of the company and the developer.
Last, but not least, if the code is time stamped after digitally signing it by using a code signing certificate, the life span of the code is bound to increase.