What is Code Signing Certificate and How to Use It?


Internet security and privacy have become a great area of concern for most internet users. Unfortunately, cyber threats and security vulnerabilities are increasing day after day. No single day passes without hearing news reports about some of the most devastating data breaches. With the prominence of brute force attacks, malware infections, phishing, and spear-phishing attacks, it is sensible to say that the internet is not safe.

Because users exchange a lot of sensitive data over the internet, all stakeholders should be willing to have proper security measures and protocols to safeguard data. Luckily, cybersecurity experts are always on their toes to bring you proper security tools, measures, and protocols to help you stay safe from data breaches. For example, we have seen antimalware software, SSL certificates, code signing certificates, firewalls, among many others.

All these security protocols help to safeguard our data privacy and prevent security vulnerabilities. In this article, I will be paying much attention to code signing certificates. You can read about SSL certificates in our previous articles.

Decoding a Code Signing Certificate

Code signing refers to the digital signature procedure/technology followed to ensure that a code or software remains secure. The code signing process allows the code author to share the content without fear of the code being tampered with by intruders.

Therefore, a code signing certificate acts as an indicator that the software content the author is sharing is legitimate, genuine, and trustworthy. In addition, a code or software that a code signing certificate has signed gives confidence to the end users because they are assured that the code has not been tampered with by anyone else since it was signed.

Also read: 5 Ways To Improve Your Business Using SSL Certificates

Why Should You Use a Code Signing Certificate?

There are several reasons as to why you start using a code signing certificate. The following are the major reasons why it is important to use the code signing certificate.

  1. To Protect Software Script and Code from Third Party Alteration

Man-in-the-Middle attacks are so common on the internet today. Usually, hackers, intruders, and other third parties target software scripts and code shared over the internet. They can easily intercept the software scripts and codes, read,alter or tamper with the content of the code.

However, it would be very difficult for the third parties to access the digitally signed codes and software scripts. Code signing, therefore, helps to protect codes and software scripts from unauthorized access and intruder interceptions. Therefore, a code signing certificate will help ensure that all your files, codes, digital resources, and reputation remain secure.

  1. Code Signing Certificate Proves that A Software or Code Is Genuine

One of the significant roles of a code signing certificate is to establish the legitimacy of a code. Before users can install and start using your software, they will first want to prove its source. Second, users want to be sure that they are not installing dangerous and insecure code that can lead to security issues.

On digitally signing the code or software script using the code signing certificate, the author of the script will be able to mark the software with a stamp of authentication which will display the name of the author, the website of the author, and an indication that the code has not been tampered with since it was published. Once the code users authenticate the code source, they can go ahead to use it confidently.

  1. Code Signing Certificate for Establishing Trust

You must understand that no user will be willing to use a code whose source is not known. Users want first to establish the source of the code before they can go ahead to use it. Code signing certificate helps your users to know that the code is from a genuine source.

The code signing certificate shrink-wraps your code, mobile application, or software script to prevent it from being altered by malicious people. Therefore, the certificate establishes some trust levels in your users, which gives them confidence when using your code. A code signing certificate will help you build a reliable brand reputation that your users can easily trust. You can choose to buy reliable yet cheap certs such as DigiCert EV Code Signing, Comodo Code Signing certificates from reliable online providers.

  1. Prevents Malware Distribution

With a code signing certificate, attackers will not inject malware into a code without being detected. In addition, code signing certificates allow users’ computers to double-check the software before finally installing the code. This ensures that any corrupted or altered code that might carry different forms of malware is not allowed into the system.

  1. Elimination of Popup Notifications

Whenever a software does not have a code signing certificate, browsers and web applications will warn users about it via error messages. Users usually find these error messages irritating and usually choose to quit using the software. However, you do not want this for your software, and therefore you must ensure that you digitally sign your codes and software scripts.

How to Use Code Signing Certificates?

After acquiring your code signing certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority, you should follow the following simple procedure to have your code signing certificate up and running;

Step 1: During the purchase, you will have to give the vendor your email address. An installation link for your code signing certificate will be sent to this email. You must ensure that you create the code signing certificate within thirty days of receiving the email.

Step 2: Open the attached link in the email that you just received. It will be installed in the certificate store for your Mac or Windows login keychain.

Step 3: You then need to navigate to the ‘Generate certificate’ tab. Click on it to install your code signing certificate.

Step 4: After successfully installing the code signing certificate, you can then freely sign your code.

Alternatively, you can export the code signing certificate as a .pfx file for windows and a .p12 file for Mac.

What To Expect When Your Code Signing Certificate Reaches Expiry?

Code signing certificates usually remain operational for up to three years, after which they expire. However, even if the certificate is expired, the code due to timestamp remains valid. However, companies cannot sign new software if the certificate has expired, so it is better to renew it before it expires. If the certificate is expired, you must follow the steps mentioned above to renew the certificate.


Code signing technology is important in securing software scripts and codes and preventing attackers from reading, modifying, or tampering with them. Code signing certificate, therefore, plays a critical security role that you should know about. In this article, I have explained what code signing certificates are and why you need them.

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