Code Signing with Microsoft Authenticode
Authenticode, one of the most popular Microsoft technologies, is used in code-signing to identify who’s the publisher or developer of a given piece of software. It helps in signing several types of Windows scripts and executables such as .exe, .dll, .cab., .xpi & .ocx and assists in verifying that the signed software or executable files are genuine and have not been tampered with since it was signed & published.
Microsoft Authenticode uses cryptographic procedures for verifying the integrity and identity of the code. Here, the CA’s (Certificate Authorities) gives an assurance that the signed software or any executable file such as drivers or driver package (driver packages are the software components which is mandatory to be supplied for devices to support and work in Windows) comes from a trusted and known publisher or organization. Moreover, it also helps users to verify the software publisher’s identity through chaining the certificate from a digital signature to a trusted root certificate.
To simplify more, it will help the organization or software publisher gain the trust of users by not showing any warning message saying that software is from the unknown. Instead, it will show the software is safe to download and install while protecting your brand reputation.
Safe to Download
Code signing certificates, also known as a digital signing certificate, is used in Microsoft Authenticode technology. Here, a software publisher uses it to sign their software or driver files, which in return identify the publisher and also provides users the ability to verify the integrity of the software. One thing to note is that code signing certificates are one of the parts of a chain that also includes the cryptographic public key of the publisher’s, which are only issued by trusted CA (Certificate Authorities) like Comodo or DigiCert, and can be called as a set of data which helps in identifying the software publisher or developer.
Apart from this, here are some of the benefits using Code Signing with Microsoft Authenticode:
- Software Integrity: Software is hashed with the SHA-2 hashing algorithm at the time of signing, which in turns make a unique hash value. Once the software is distributed online by organization or software publisher, customer’s browser also re-hash the software which produces the same hash value which was made by a software publisher. If it matches, it’s a guarantee to users that software is not tampered and safe to use.
- Verified Publisher’s Identity: For obtaining Microsoft Authentication code signing certificate, developers have to go through strict procedures such as company or organization’s verification by showing company registration information is valid. It usually takes up to 1-3 days, which is easy if all the publicly available information for an organization is up-to-date.
- No More Download Warnings: If the software is signed, as a software developer you’ll be able to avoid warning signs that tell users that software is not trustworthy. If there are no warning signs, users will trust your software, which ultimately helps in increasing reputation and revenue.
Lastly, when a software developer signs software using Microsoft Authenticode Code Signing, it does not mean that it will change the executable parts of a signed driver. It only means that the digital signature will be embedded with a non-executable part of the driver or software file.