It’s important to know that the code you use is authentic and that it has not been modified by anyone else. If you don’t ensure that the code is genuine, you and your organization may end up using malicious software. However, it is hard to build that trust as you will have to verify that the software developed by a third-party somewhere has not been modified. This is where the code signing process comes into play.
Code signing is the process through which software is digitally verified. This confirms the identity of the person or organization that developed the code. This process assures that the code or the software has not been altered after it was signed by the one who developed it.
Common Types of Security Threats for Software
The following are a few types of malware and threats that can be maliciously embedded into legitimate software:
Some companies take legitimate software and distribute it with Adware/Spyware embedded to make money. This Spyware will start spying on your computer as soon as the infected software runs on your system. This malicious program appears like it is something useful and when installed on a computer, it can allow attackers to access the computer so that they can steal personal data which includes IP addresses, banking details, passwords, and more.
Viruses are very common and almost everyone is aware of computer viruses—many household computers are victims of cybersecurity threats and viruses are the most common types of malware by which systems are affected. A virus hidden in software can seriously harm your computer. Even legitimate software can easily be affected by a virus that hides inside the legitimate software. This, in turn, can affect the computer on which the software runs and the computers of everyone who communicate with that affected computer. These viruses can corrupt a computer and steal sensitive data.
This is a self-replicating computer malware program that can spread from one system to another. It spreads by sending itself to the infected computer’s contacts followed by the contacts of the other computers. These worms exploit software vulnerabilities and transmit quickly. These worms can delete or modify files and install more malicious software on the infected computer. Some worms deplete system resources by multiplying themselves, thereby halting other tasks you may perform.
Rootkits hide in legitimate software and they are a set of software tools that intruders use to gain total access to the system. When infected software is installed, the rootkit will be installed on your system. This is generally done without the knowledge of the user. Rootkits can perform a lot of actions on the –these rootkits can take admin-level access over the affected computer.
How Does a Code Signing Certificate Help?
Code signing certificates help in many different ways. Code signing certificates verify the identities of the developers and attackers cannot inject malware into legitimate software without detection. These certificates enable the user’s computer to double-check the software before installation to make sure the software has not been corrupted or altered by an attacker.
Code Signing Certificates Extend Trust
Because code signing certificates are issued by a trusted Certificate Authority after a verification process, that trust will be extended to the otherwise unknown software company using the certificate as well. A code signing software builds trust by determining the identity of the one who published the software originally, thereby enhancing the reputation of the software publisher. This, in turn, increases the number of downloads.
Code signing certificates protect codes and other files. When you sign your code with a code signing certificate, the Certificate Authority that issues the certificate will confirm you as the original author of the software. While people are cautious these days when they download software, a code signing certificate will help you establish that your software is legitimate. If any change is made to your software, the signing authority will notify the user of the changes that were made. This way, you can be assured that your code cannot be modified by any third party without your knowledge.
Here are a few code signing certificates from trusted Certificate Authorities:
Protecting Your Code Signing Certificate
Code signing is an important and essential security tool. As with most security tools,hackers are trying to manipulate code signing certificates, so companies must take some measures to keep their code safe and stay away from threats:
- It is important to keep the code signing private keys safe. If hackers steal your keys, they can sign software and look like it was signed by you.
- Code signing certificates must be used only by authorized users, according to a carefully documented process. All code signing operations happening in the company must be tracked. It is important for businesses to safeguard their code-signing processes and track which certificate was used by whom to sign which code.
The code signing process secures software and prevents attackers from modifying it and stealing the personal data of people who use the software. Though not all signed software is safe, code signing certificates offer a digital signature to give accountability and keep most cybersecurity threats at bay.