6 Best Practices for Code Signing You Need to Know

The Internet is a helpful and effective way to use, distribute, and access software- someone probably downloaded nearly every application on your desktop. Although the Internet’s popularity and wide use are good, they also carry some risks.

For instance, cybercriminals and hackers can access an executable document’s source code, enter malware into it, and permit users to find and download the program online.

Any user who downloads and installs this document would be prone to malware. It sounds scary, but the good news is code signing can make everything better.

Please note that code signing is required for product type ‘Application’ in SDK ‘iOS 10.0.’

About Code Signing

Code signing is the procedure of supplying a trusted digital certificate certifying who you are and guaranteeing that software has the code you wrote alone.

When a developer or any software distributor code-marks their software, they’re signing the executable document that’s being given out digitally.

It’s a widespread habit across platforms such as:
  • Mobile applications (primarily Android and iOS)
  • Software upgrades
  • Mac and PC programs

How Code Signing Functions

The code signing process is pretty similar to how you’d get an SSL certificate for a website.
It comprises the use of a private and public encryption key pair to have a trusted certification official provide an authentic code signing certificate to you.

You can use the certificate when you print your software. You must authenticate your identity to a certification authority to receive a code marking certificate. The proof helps them know that you are who you claim to be.

How you should do that depends on the type of authorization you’re hoping to get.

They exist in several main types:
  • Extended Validation (EV) Code Signing Certificate- it’s pretty challenging to get. You must undergo a lengthy vetting procedure with a certification authority.
  • Organization Validated Code Signing Certificate- it’s easier to obtain. You only have to identify yourself with a certification authority and undergo a simple confirmation procedure.

Difference Between the Two Certificates

The significant variation between EV and standard code marking certificates is what they permit your software to do. Standard certificates allow operating structures to compare your software’s hash at the moment of marking to its hash at runtime.

EV certificates arrive with some extra advantages. The first involves SmartScreen- Microsoft’s download checking structure and in-built website.

Next is that you can use an EV certificate to mark Microsoft Windows drivers, while you can’t use a standard certificate for that intention.

Types of Code Signing Certificates

There are four main kinds:
  • Authentic Document IDs for Brew
  • Desktop Type Code Signing Certificates
  • Digital Code Signing Certificate for Android
  • Mobile Type Code Signing Certificates

Suitable Practices for Code Signing

Here are some best practices for code marking that you should know and use:

Regulate Access to Private Keys

Ensure that you grant authorized personnel alone access to computers with the code marking keys.

Timestamp Your Code At All Times

Timestamping prolongs the trust beyond the code signing certificate’s validity duration. It allows the system to confirm the code even after the certificate has expired or been revoked.

Verify the Code to be Marked

Some software developers rush to sign and release their code before experts confirm it. This proves to be a costly mistake.

A smooth approval and submission of the coding process are essential to prevent malicious or unaccepted code from being signed.

Ensure that you record every signing activity to maintain audit logs and soaring incident-reaction cases.

Learn the Variation Between a Test-Signing Certificate and Release-Signing Certificate

Test-marking private certificates and keys need fewer security access controls than production code signing private keys and certificates. Test-signing certificates can come from an internal assessment CA or be self-marked.

Test certificates must link to an entirely different root certificate than the root certificate used to mark publicly released items. This safety measure helps ensure that the test certificates are trusted only within the proposed test surroundings.

Virus Scan Code Before Signing

Code marking confirms the printer’s identity but not the code’s quality or nature. It just gives a guarantee that no one has meddled with the software after the author signed it last.

Hackers can present harmful snippets, mostly when including code from other third-party sources. It pays to run virus scans to enhance the released code’s security.

Don’t Overuse Any Single Key (Distribute Risk With Various Certificates)

Should the system find a code with a safety error, then printers may want to prompt a User Account Control dialog box to surface when the code is fixed soon. You can do this by nullifying the code signing certificate so a reversed notification will pop up.

Nullifying the certificate will affect the good code, too, if the code with the security error was given before the system presented more good code. You can avoid this problem by transforming the certificates and keys.


Code signing can help safeguard your good reputation as a software developer. It can also help you win more users. The key is to work with a legitimate code signing company and learn all you can about the process.

Remember to ask as many queries as possible and ask for a demonstration before working with any organization. Try code signing today and discover a whole new easy way to protect your precious software from malware.

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