The convenience with which you can download a number of software programs on to your personal devices like laptops and computers has a flipside to it. And that comes in the form of a potential damage caused by malicious software code that should never be ignored. That means users should be cautious of the malware that these programs come with so that they don’t end up infecting the entire web. In an attempt to safeguard software products from getting infected with malware, software developers rely on Code Signing SSL Certificate.
True to its name, a Code Signing SSL Certificate authenticates the security of the software, freeing it from the damaging effects of digital compromises and information tampering. These certificates bring in the much-needed element of trust to users, allowing them to safely sign up with the software company and download the code on to their devices.
These unique certificates enable software developers to demonstrate to users that their software applications, programs, scripts, drivers, or digital code can be safely downloaded. Assuring that the software is free from any sort of alterations from a third party, every Code Signing SSL Certificate promises security of two significant components.
- The Integrity of the Content: This certificate verifies and demonstrates to users that the developer’s code was not tampered with, since the time it was originally created.
- Authenticates the Source of Web Content: You can also verify the author/developer of the software, by this certificate approving the source of the online content.
Two Important Terms That Should Be Understood Before Proceeding with the Code Signing Procedure
A Code Signing Certificate is a digital signature that allows you to secure your code through the use of a private and public key system. Software developers who request for a certificate gain access to what is called as a pair of public and private keys. These keys validate the name of the software, the company’s name and its signature.
#1 Encryption of the Public Key
An SSL certificate encrypts online information so that it cannot be accessed or viewed by unwarranted users. Encryption is a security feature comprising of a mathematical function that is referred to as a KEY that changes values according to what is keyed in by viewers. Hence encryption permits only authorized users to read that particular message after decoding it.
Speaking of encryption of the public key with regard to a Code Signing SSL Certificate, the unique numerical value that encodes the message is different from the value that decodes it. The key that is made available to the users is aptly named as the “Public Key” and the one that is linked to the certificate is the “Private Key”. The matching of these two keys is a clear indication of the authenticity of the software code.
#2 The Significance of the Hash Function
A hash function is the second important term that should be known to you. Hash functions are irreversible cryptography. They are single-direction (one-way) mathematical functions which do not permit the reversal of changed values. Take for example a login password. You just need to key in the password once without requiring to read the same for the second time.
Secured websites supported by Code Signing SSL certificates hash these stored passwords, making them impenetrable to hackers. Websites with hashed passwords allow users to key in their passwords which are matched with the hash values that are already stored. A perfect match between what the user keyed into what is already stored in the file grants a permission for the user to access the file.
Prepping Up for a Code Signing Certificate
A software developer has to go through the following steps as part of the Code Signing execution process.
- He/she should request and apply for a code signing certificate from a recognized CA (Certificate Authority) or they can get from a authorized reseller.
- The CA verifies the identity of the developer and issues the SSL certificate.
- Subsequently, the developer has to employ a unique Code Signing program that permits him/her to add the certificate and the digital signature to the software product. This is done by generating a one-way software hash that is encrypted with the private key. Later, this key should be tied to the software and the SSL certificate.
- Now, the software is made available online after it is uploaded by the developer. This step permits users to download the software.
The following are the steps that should be taken by users looking to download a software product verified with a Code Signing SSL Certificate.
- The digital security feature of the Code Signing SSL Certificate comes into play after the software is installed and run by the user. Here, the digital signature is validated by the user who decrypts the hash with the certificate’s public key. This step thus leads to the creation of a new hash.
- The newly generated hash key is then matched with the hash that is associated with the SSL certificate.
- In the event both the hash keys match, a green signal is given to the operating system to permit the installation of the software on to the user’s device.
The below illustration signifies an application that comes with a verified and a signed digital certificate, making it safe to download.
- On the other hand, a mismatch of keys will show up a warning message indicating to the user that either the product is compromised or the origin of the content is invalid.
Find below the warning message that pops up on the screens of users looking to download an unsigned application.
Multi-Dimensional Applications of Code Signing SSL Certificates
As mentioned earlier, Code Signing SSL Certificates come as strong pillars of authenticity and security to software products. However, there are 10 other applications of these certificates. You can use these certificates to secure middleware, device drivers, packaged software, freeware, enterprise applications, virus updates, utility software, configuration files, OEM software and shareware.
Given the fact that Code Signing is a crucial technology that verifies the author of the software and validates the integrity of the content, it cannot avoid the spread of malicious software across the web. But, users can safely bank on this technology to download unaltered software, exclusively from verified online sources.