5 Best Practices for Signing Code Securely
- Website Development

5 Best Practices for Signing Code Securely

There are several indicators that your firm may have a code signing issue. But keep in mind that the problem isn’t with the code signing process itself. Code signing is a well-known security best practice. However, how you go about doing so may make or break the effectiveness of your code signing operations.

It would be best to consider how your firm protects machine IDs throughout the code signing process.

How many different forms of machine IDs does your company safeguard? Let’s look at five recommended practices that can assist your firm in solving its code-signing challenge in this article.

But before that, what exactly is code signing?

What Does Code Signing Mean?

Code signing is a digital signature given to software and apps to ensure that the code it contains has not been modified after its signing.

The method for code signing is identical to that for SSL/TLS certificates. First, you and your code are identified and authenticated using a pair of cryptographic keys, one public, and one secret. Like DigiCert, applying for a certificate from a reputable certificate authority (CA) is the safest and most effective way to receive a private key. You may then produce your private key after you receive your certificate.

Your choice of CA is critical since it can influence how widely you can distribute your product. For instance, DigiCert offers certificates for various desktop and mobile platforms, including Windows Phone and Android.

The following are some of the best practices when implementing a code signature for enhanced security.

Always Show Compliance

Your job is to keep your company’s data safe, including code signing credentials. Demonstrating that you are effectively attaining the final aim will be an element of this effort’s success.

Therefore, it’s critical to show that you have a secure code signing mechanism across the board. In addition, you can assure compliance by having an irrefutable record of all code signing actions, including understanding where all private keys are kept and that regulations are always followed.

Use Automation to Define And Enforce Policy

Development teams oppose corporate security policies because they are frequently based on manual processes. This is wildly counter-intuitive for DevOps teams working on large-scale projects. Furthermore, their manual methods do not meet the project’s needs.

As a result, you should offer a code signing platform that enables each development team to set its code signing policies and procedures, such as:

  • Who has the authority to sign the code?
  • What type of code signing software is permitted?
  • What kinds of certifications are allowed?
  • Who makes the decision (depending on the sort of certificate or the stage of software development)?

Through workflow automation, that platform should be able to enforce those stated regulations automatically. In addition, working with third-party code signing technologies that developers are already familiar with makes adoption much more accessible.

Integrating with corporate platforms like active directory, ticketing systems, and other technologies is something you’ll want to pay special attention to.

Initiate Global Visibility

The first step in safeguarding the code signing process is for your Information and security team to ensure that all code signing operations are visible. You’ll need to know important details like:

Which code, whether for external or internal usage, is being signed.

Whose code signing certificates are used, regardless of which certificate authority issued them, including certificates developed locally.

Who signed the code, on which system, when it was signed, and with which code-signing tool?

Who, if anyone, gave their permission for the code signing procedure?

Scan For Viruses Before Signing Code

Even if it’s self-evident, we’re mentioning it directly. Code signing does not guarantee the security or quality of the software, executables, or other things you sign. Instead, it certifies the publisher’s name and whether the code has been changed after signing.

Moreover, should your code signing certificate be used to sign any malicious code that gets up on a user’s computer or device, you’re in for a terrible time—your code signing certificate will be revoked, and getting another one will be difficult due to the validation criteria. As a result, it’s a good idea to follow these code-signing best practices when signing your software:

  1. Complete code review to guarantee that all lines of code have been double-checked and validated
  2. Performing thorough QA testing to eliminate code that may create unexpected defects or difficulties
  3. Virus-scanning properly allows you to double-check the safety of your deployed code.
  4. It is anticipated that you take adequate care of your code or program if you combine it with other sources.

Safeguard Every Code Signing Private Key With Central Security

The next step in building a secure code signing procedure is to move private code signing keys off all developers’ PCs, build servers, web servers, sticky notes, etc. Private keys should be kept in a secure, centralized, encrypted location.

For any reason, private keys must never leave this place. In addition, developers’ storage choices must be customized depending on the code signing certificates. For example, Extended Validation (EV) certificates must be kept in a Hardware Security Module (HSM).


Many often take security protocols casually until a vulnerability has become widespread. Unfortunately, this is also true concerning code signing security.

However, we would propose the following top five code signing best practices to you, benefit you, your organization, and your clients.

5 Best Practices for Signing Code Securely

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