Code Signing

How does CodeSign Secure provide Security Measures?

code signing certificate and encryption key

Read time: 3 min 2 sec

Organizations spend huge amounts of money protecting users’ digital identity and access management, like their usernames and passwords. More resources are needed to manage code signing keys, machine identities, and certificates because the global digital economy depends on secure infrastructure and software. Digital transformation has made businesses transform their operations to digital and do their software businesses. Thus, the need arises to protect these critical infrastructures using the code-signing machine, which makes identity management more critical than ever.

What is Code Signing?

Code signing is a way or method of adding a digital signature to a piece of the digital file or software such that its authenticity can be verified when used, including the integrity of the software. It helps guarantees that the recipient knows who the sender or author is and that it hasn’t been tampered with after signing it. Earlier, code signing software was mainly used for verifying the authenticity of the software executables like – software updates, programs, and shell scripts to verify the authenticity and integrity of these end-users.

How Code Signing Works?

When a valid machine identity is used to sign software — such as a code signing certificate and encryption key—computing devices will implicitly trust and unconditionally run the software. The valid code signature indicates that the code comes from the trusted source that signed it and hasn’t been tampered with by a third party. When this process is compromised, cybercriminals can misuse code-signing machine identities to sneak malware that appears to come from your organization into your software. However, with the recent flurry of software supply chain attacks where hackers insert malware before the final software gets signed, code signing is now also used to protect intermediate software artifacts such as source code, build scripts, software libraries, execution containers like Docker, and the tools that are used by the software team to build their software.

After signing software with a valid machine identity – such as an encryption key and a code signing certificate – computing devices implicitly trust and run the software unconditionally. The valid code signature indicates that the code comes from the trusted source that signed it and hasn’t been tampered with or damaged by a third party. When this process is compromised, cybercriminals can misuse code-signing machine identities to sneak malware that appears to come from your organization into your software.

How does code-signing machine identity impact Security?

While doing an online transaction, users prefer to be sure that when they log into their bank account, they are providing their credentials to the intended banks and not any attacker. Similarly, it’s best to be sure that the software programs and updates a user intends to download are safe and from authentic senders or publishers. To achieve this, the user must use the same Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) used to secure the HTTPS connection. The process of code signing is defined as the signing and verification of software using machine identities.

When software files such as – a program, document, driver, firmware, file, mobile application, container, or even a script are signed digitally to show that it has been sent from an authenticated source and the data hasn’t been tampered with or altered after it was signed. The three necessary items required in a code signing operation are:

  • The code which is to be signed upon.
  • A Certificate Authority (CA) previously issued a public code signing certificate.
  • A private code signing key is to be used for encrypting.

After an organization has the code signing certificate and private/public PKI key pair, developers or users can sign their code. This process varies depending on what types of code are being signed and how often they’re being released.

How does EC’s CodeSign Secure provide security?

Encryption Consulting’s CodeSign Secure product stores the private keys of the Code-signing certificates in an HSM to eliminate all kinds of risks associated with corrupted, stolen, or misused keys. We have validated of code against up-to-date antivirus definitions for malware and virus before digitally signing any malicious code. On the client side, hashing has been enabled to ensure the build performance and avoid unnecessary movement of files for greater security.

Conclusion

EC’s CodeSign Secure provides a command line signing tool that helps in faster bulk sign requests, i.e., multiple files can be signed, each file taking less than 0.2 seconds. Also, robust access control systems can be integrated with LDAP and customizable workflows for mitigating risks associated with granting wrong access to unauthorized users and allowing them to sign code with malicious certificates. Thus, CodeSign Secure helps to confirm the authenticity and originality of digital information, such as a piece of software code.

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Code signing is a process to confirm the authenticity and originality of digital information such as a piece of software code.

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About the Author

Subhayu Roy is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs, creating Google Cloud applications, and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

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