Step-by-Step Process to Get Code Signing Certificate

Understanding the Role, Importance, and Process of obtaining a Code Signing Certificate from Authentic Certificate Authorities.

Developers and development companies must obtain a code signing certificate before deploying their solution. Be it a simple game or complex software to predict the next election winner, every digital component before it is available for public use requires a code signing certificate. 

To get code signing certificate, the entity launching the solution has to follow a set process. This process is crucial for lone wolf developers who must gain the end-user trust. This trust is earned with several elements, but one of them is a code signing certificate. 

The code signing certificate helps gain trust and increases the confidence meter. So, for both these advantages and many others, it is essential to buy code signing certificate. 

What is Code Signing Certificate?

Code signing certificate represents two things; 

  1. Code Signing
  2. Certificate 

Code signing is a process whereby the software or application developer signs the digital solutions they build. It can be an executable, a computer game, software, a mobile application, a web application, etc. Code signing is essential to complete before releasing the solution. 

The meaning behind code signing is imprinting a digital signature on the executable solution. This step aims to ensure that the code has not been tampered with and that anyone can download it without risk. 

The term certificate is a simple authentication document demonstrating the code signing information. It has details like the developer’s name, certificate authority, and the type of encryption. 

Not only an end-user but a code signing certificate also increases the trust factor with web browsers. It allows everyone to trust the executable and its upgrades as and when they arrive. 

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In Windows, the executables without a code signing certificate can be downloaded but not without warning. The user will be notified that the software or application is from an unknown publisher. The user has to surpass this warning before downloading the software. 

However, executables with a certificate help ensure that the software is safe to use, that it has not been tampered with and that it has come from a verified entity. 

How to Get Code Signing Certificate – Step-by-Step Process

Anyone can buy code signing certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) and attach it to their executable or software. A code signing certificate is similar to an SSL certificate. The latter secures a website domain, but the former secures the code of a software. 

Here’s the process to obtain a certificate:

  1. Selecting the Type of Certificate

There are two types of code-signing certificates available;

  • Standard (OV) Code Signing Certificate: A standard code signing certificate is easier to obtain than other certificates. A code signing certificate provider will check only a few things about the publisher before assigning the certificate. The CA will check the publisher’s identity, organization name, physical address, and more details. 

This type of certificate fits small businesses, lone wolf developers, etc. The CA will issue this certificate in the name of the business or developer, and the private key associated with it will be stored on the server. 

  • EV Code Signing Certificate: In EV stands for Extended Validation code signing certificate; the CA will undergo a comprehensive verification process. It involves an extensive process whereby the CA will not limit their verification to identifying the publisher’s name and other details. 
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It will go into the business details and check the publisher’s hardware. Not only must the publisher pass the rigorous verification process, but they must also pass the hardware security requirements. As a result, with EV certificates, the publisher or developer will gain higher confidence from the end-users. 

Note that you might have to spend more money to Buy EV Code Signing Certificate than the Standard Code signing certificate. 

  1. Choose the Certificate Authority

Choosing the right certificate authority is the next step in getting a code signing certificate. An ideal CA has the following attributes;

  • The entity is at the forefront of establishing baseline standards. 
  • They are an active member of the industry groups working to improve the entire ecosystem of code signing certification. 
  • They must offer resources pertaining to the code signing certificates. This includes best practices, certificate management practices, compliance systems, etc. 

In addition to this, also choose the CA that has a good customer service system. They must have 24/7 support for the customers and provide the required tools for certificate management and installation. Moreover, choose the CA that has a history of issuing certificates and has dedicated intermediaries for better management. 

  1. Generating CSR

A Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is integral to obtaining the code signing certificate. A CSR request is a step in which the publisher will submit the required files and information to the CA to obtain the certificate. The following information is added to the CSR;

  • Domain name
  • Organization name and unit
  • Address of the publisher, including city or locality
  • State/Country/Region
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Public Key
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The CSR is a Base-64-based PEM format string of characters. Generating a CSR differs according to the platform you are using. 

  1. Verification of the Information Provided

After the CSR is submitted, the CA will go into the validation mode to verify the information submitted. In this, they authenticate the organization by confirming its legitimacy. Generally, the CAs use the government database to verify business information. They check whether the entity is registered with the government authorities. 

The second verification step is the locality presence, which means checking the publisher’s or business entity’s physical address. The CA will check the telephone number in telephone verification, followed by the final verification call. 

  1. Downloading the Code Signing Certificate

After the verification is complete, the developers and publishers can download the certificate. This is the last step in getting a code signing certificate. In the end, the CA will send a collection link to continue the code signing certificate. 

The code signing certificate can be installed on the keystore (for Android or Windows) and keychain (for iOS). Once the certificate is stored, the developer or development company can use it to sign their code and then publish the same. 

Completing this process can take between 1 to 5 days, depending on the type of certificate you wish to obtain. A standard code signing certificate can be provided in 1 to 2 days, but you might need to wait for up to five days with an EV code signing certificate. 

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You will become an authentic and verified publisher at the end of the process. You will gain the status of the integrity of the underlying code and get the benefit of enhanced user confidence. 

What are the Best Code Signing Certificates?

Here are the two best code signing certificates you must consider when you want to secure your code with a valid and secure certificate. 

  1. Comodo

Comodo has both a Standard code signing certificate and EV code signing certificate. The Standard code signing certificate has a 1 to 3 days issuance time, and even an individual developer can obtain this code signing certificate. Moreover, this certificate is secured with a 3072-bit RSA signing key and includes a timestamp. 

The Comodo EV Code Signing Certificate has an issuance time of 1 to 5 business days and supports all platforms. The certificate has SHA-2 encryption and is enabled with USB token storage. 

  1. Sectigo

The Sectigo standard code signing certificate has SHA-2 encryption and a safe digital signature. It improves the software’s integrity and has a timestamp functionality. Besides organizations, individual developers can also use this certificate. 

The EV code signing certificate by Sectigo also has SHA-2 encryption and boasts an MS Smartscreen badge. The issuance time is 1 to 5 business days. 

Conclusion

Getting a code signing certificate is an easy process, provided you have the right credentials. Individual developers can also get a standard code signing certificate, which has helped them publish their applications and software easily. 

One certificate can help the publishers instill confidence in their end-users and increase the number of downloads of their software or executables. 

Founder of this enthusiastic tech blog and a lover of nature, space, future technology, and maybe, a nerd.

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