Code Signing Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Essentials of Code-Signing Policies 

Software supply chains are occasionally targeted, putting organizations at a serious risk. To protect these software supply chains, it is highly recommended to use code-signing. By using code-signing, an attacker or an unauthorized user will not be able to release or deploy the code for end-users or customers.

This is where code-signing guidelines come into the picture. These guidelines are very important for maintaining the software’s security and integrity. The guidelines of an organization are based on many different rules and standards, which are known as code-signing policies. 

Importance of Code-Signing Policy 

Code-signing policies are the rules or regulatory guidelines that govern the way code-signing is supposed to be implemented in an organization. These policies are mainly concerned with generating digital signatures for code or software and then verifying them before distribution. These policies ensure that only authorized code is executed on the systems, which prevents malware from being installed.

  • Security Assurance

    Code-signing policies are used to successfully verify the authenticity of different types of software artifacts. If a digital signature is attached to code, unwanted modifications can be avoided, which will lead to establishing trust in organizations. This is very helpful in software distribution to end-users.

  • Risk Mitigation

    Various attacks like malware injection and supply chain attacks can be prevented by an organization by maintaining a strict code-signing policy. A strict and detailed policy will help prevent these risks and increase overall security measures.

  • Trust and Reputation

    Code-signing attaches a signature to code, which acts as proof that the software that was delivered to the customer originated from a trusted source. This also gives trust that the software has not been tampered with during transit.

  • Compliance Requirements

    To ensure software integrity and authenticity, many regulatory frameworks have made code-signing mandatory. These policies enable organizations to meet the requirements and comply with proper and necessary regulations.

Best Practices for Creating a Code-Signing Policy 

Every organization needs to follow strict code-signing regulations to ensure the integrity and authenticity of their software. These are a few best practices for code-signing policies:  

  • Understanding organizational needs

    Planning and mapping out the specific requirements of an organization’s code-signing needs is a very crucial first step. This will show how code-signing depends on various factors like – the type of software to be signed, regulatory compliance, security protocols, etc. After proper and detailed understanding, one should draft the appropriate code-signing policy for one’s organization.

  • Keeping the policy simple but comprehensive

    It is important to keep your code-signing policies simple and clear. But that does not mean one shouldn’t cover all the necessary steps. Unnecessary complexities should be avoided, and a clear definition of roles and permissions should be provided based on the requirements. Developers are likely to successfully implement simple and easy-to-understand policies.

  • Regular Updates and Review policies

    With newer threats emerging every day, security measures need to be updated too. Regular updates and reviews of the code-signing policies should be mandatory, along with regular assessments. One should keep themselves updated to ensure the code-signing policy they drafted remains effective and relevant.

Key Components of a Code-Signing Policy 

An effective code-signing policy should include the following guidelines: 

  • Key Issuance

    A robust control system must exist to determine which users can issue keys, manage the key’s types and attributes, and when to issue them. Only a user with an appropriate role can perform these tasks, which helps avoid issuing new keys with weaker algorithms.

  • Key Management

    A separate rule should be created to manage a user’s roles and the permissions to manage the keys. This procedure should also include location tracking for all the keys.

  • Key Storage

    Cryptographic or private code-signing keys must be protected. After CA/B Forum’s June 2023 requirements, all code-signing private keys must be stored in a FIPS 140-2 Level 2 (or higher) HSM. Developers should have limited access to these private keys.

  • Key Usage

    The right people are responsible for using private keys appropriately at the right time. How these keys are used is a critical factor in code-signing procedures.

  • Prevent Key Sharing

    Private keys should never be removed from the HSMs, and developers should never share keys inside internal servers, systems, or networks. Each key should be uniquely issued, and only a few Administrator users should have READ permission for these keys.

  • Continuous Signing

    Implementing continuous Signing in every CI/CD pipeline is paramount. This ensures that code security is consistently and appropriately maintained based on the individual’s role.


Every organization needs a strong and strict code-signing policy for software integrity and authenticity. Encryption Consulting offers expert guidance in developing custom-made code-signing policies. With our cybersecurity expertise and hands-on approach, we help organizations navigate the complexities of policy development and implementation and ensure compliance.

Trust starts with code signing. Let Encryption Consulting be your partner in fortifying that trust. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create robust code-signing policies tailored to your organization’s needs. 

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Datasheet of Code Signing Solution

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


About the Author

Subhayu is a cybersecurity consultant specializing in Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) and is the lead developer for CodeSign Secure. At CodeSign Secure, his enthusiasm for coding meets his commitment to cybersecurity, with a fresh perspective and a drive to learn and grow in every project and work as a consultant for high-profile clients.

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