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What Certificate Is Used to Sign Apps?

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What Certificate Is Used to Sign Apps

As per the 2022 cyber threat report, 2.8 billion malware attacks were recorded in the first half of this year. This figure has escalated by 11% for the first time in the last three years.

Thankfully, there are several measures available today that help you avert getting your applications compromised with vulnerability. With the help of a specialized certificate, you can sign your application to enhance its security and let users know its legitimacy.

However, many don’t know what certificates are used to protect applications from these malware attacks. In this article, we will discuss what is a certificate for an app.

As we know, behind every man’s success there’s a woman, similarly, behind the success of practically every digital business, there’s software. Users today excessively use and download several apps on their devices. But the paramount question here is the trust and security of the software being installed.

There’s no way for users to know whether the software is from a reliable source or not, except by digitally signing it with a certificate. Let’s get to know what this certificate is and how applications are signed.

What Certificate is Used for Signing Your Application?

There are several different security certificates like SSL, S/MIME email certificates, IoT device certificates, and others available. But for safeguarding your application, a code signing certificate is used.

It is a digital certificate for application developers and publishers to assert their digital identity. Moreover, this digital certificate also makes sure the integrity of the software code remains intact.

The code signing certificate provides an additional layer of security as it uses a public-private key infrastructure. In addition to that, the certificate also includes a cryptographic hash function that notifies if the software code is tampered with or modified after signing.

You can use this digital certificate to sign all kinds of executables, drivers, applications, and other software programs that involve coding. Adorned with the certificate, users will have a smooth and seamless installation with no warnings of unknown publishers.

This is because issuing authorities have a rigorous vetting process in place for businesses. Certificate Authorities (CA) like Sectigo or Comodo are renowned and industry leaders in digital security certificates. You can even get the same certificate from their distributors and code signing certificate providers such as SignMyCode at a cheaper rate for signing your application.

When you sign your app with a digital certificate, it builds on the trust of users in your brand and boosts confidence in your software. This helps create a fruitful and long-lasting relationship with your customers.

Platforms Supported by Code Signing Certificate

Code signing certificates are used for signing apps from multiple platforms. You can sign on desktop, mobile, and other kinds of applications. Here are some of the supported platforms:

Windows Apps

Developers planning to build an app for Microsoft Windows operating system must use a standard or EV type of code signing certificate.

macOS/iOS

You can also sign applications developed for macOS or iOS devices using a traditional code signing certificate. The operating system also has a codesign command to sign your apps.

Microsoft Visual Studio

Visual Studio is used for developing cross-platform mobile and web applications that can also be signed with code signing certificates for code integrity.

Java

Using the Java Development Kit, developers can sign their Java apps with code signing certificates.

Adobe

Adobe AIR applications are also supported and protected by the code signing certificate issued by the authorized CA.

Benefits of Signing Your Apps with Certificate

Most popular app stores, browsers, and operating systems require or prefer software with digital signatures. Since code signing offers several advantages, they have made it the norm for companies to get a certificate.

Here are some advantages to get a code signing certificate:

  • A code signing certificate uses a hash to protect the integrity of your software code. If this hash doesn’t match during the installation, users will get a security warning.
  • Another advantage of this certificate is users get assurances that the software is from a trusted source. CAs require software publishers to undergo extensive validation and display verified publishers during installation.
  • When you sign your apps, you’ll also be ensuring that your software meets the industry standards for authentication defined by NIST and CA/B forum.
  • Signing your application with a code signing certificate not only minimizes the security warnings but also makes sure users get a smooth experience.

Types of Code Signing Certificates

Certificate Authorities or their distributors offer two types of certificates based on the level of security and validation requirement. Let’s see what they are:

1. Standard Code Signing Certificate

After a standard background check of a publisher, CAs will issue this type of certificate for your executables. It provides users assurances that the code and the vendor of the software are verified and safe for installation.

  • Software with this certificate won’t trigger unknown publisher warnings during installation.
  • The private key of this certificate is stored on the publisher’s workstation.
  • Through timestamping, you can extend the lifetime of the digital signature.

2. EV Code Signing Certificate

It’s an extended validation type certificate where certificate authorities require publishers to undergo rigorous verification. Due to that, the EV certificate comes with additional security features:

  • It’s easily recognized and can bypass the Windows SmartScreen warnings.
  • Enhanced security with two-factor authentication.
  • Also, include timestamping to extend the lifetime of the digital signature even when the certificate expires, making your software trustworthy for years to come.
  • Compatible with major operating systems and platforms
  • Support for hardware security modules.

Final Words

Code signing has become a vital aspect of securing your digital products. Publishers and software developers that want to offer a streamlined experience and safeguard their users’ data, must consider signing their executables.

Doing so will require you to obtain a code signing certificate from a reliable certificate authority or their trusted distributor. Signing your applications with such a certificate is necessary for today’s day and age to cornerstone your success.