When you code sign a program, all the steps involved – from choosing a signing certificate to ensuring that you are using this certificate for the correct purpose and making sure that it is not compromised – can be more complicated than they first appear.
As such, many development teams choose to seek outside help with their code signing needs.
Here are some code signing challenges you may face.
1) Choosing a signing certificate
The first step in the code signing process is choosing your signing certificate.
There are many factors to consider when doing so, including legitimacy, compatibility with other applications and platforms, whether or not you need support for smart cards, what your budget is, etc.
2) Protecting your private key
Your digital certificate’s private key is the most important part of your code signing certificate.
Make sure that you have a secure method for protecting this key, whether by keeping it on an HSM or in another secure manner. For help choosing a security solution that works best for you, consider talking with an enterprise code signing expert at KeyFactor.
3) Adding the right digital signature to your code
The method you use for signing your software will typically be determined by your certificate type.
When using Authenticode, you’ll want to use signtool. When using PKCS#7 or Microsoft’s CER format, you can typically sign with an admin-level command prompt.
4) Ensuring that you are using the latest version of your signing certificate
When running a business, keeping up with the latest developments is crucial.
An essential part of this process is ensuring that your code signing certificates always have the latest Extended Validation (EV) level – or at least fall within minimum validity periods.
5) Understanding Code Signing best practices
To get the most out of your code signing certificates, make sure that you are aware of all the rules and regulations associated with their use. This means being aware of how to properly sign multiple binaries at once, whether or not code signing should be used for macOS projects, what ransomware looks like, when you should use SHA-2, when it is appropriate to sign using a timestamp token, etc.
6) Knowing when to use Code Signing and what it can do for you
Code signing is not the only way to create secure digital signatures for your programs. It also isn’t always the most efficient solution in every case. Discuss with your team whether or not code signing is the best option for your specific needs. You may find that in some situations, other technologies such as Authenticode and timestamping offer better options.
Code signing can be complicated.
When choosing a signing certificate, protecting your private key, adding the right digital signature to your code, and ensuring that you are using the latest version of your signing certificate – to name just a few aspects of it – it’s important to consider all the details involved.
If you feel that you or your company may be able to benefit from using code signing, discuss your options with an enterprise security specialist at KeyFactor.