According to statistics, roughly 2,200 cyber-attacks are reported daily, with each occurring every 39 seconds. This means that for DevOps engineers, security is now more important than ever.
If you want to protect your code or final published software from being corrupted, code signing should be among the top security mechanisms you consider. Would you like to know how this time-tested practice enhances software security?
You’ve come to the right place. This article discusses the various ways code signing prevents software security compromises. But first, let’s help you understand the process and how it works.
Code Signing at a Glance
Hailed as one of the most effective strategies to safeguard software against breaches, code signing is a process that allows you to digitally sign software to confirm that you are the author.
In addition, code signing verifies that third parties have not altered your code since you published it, enabling end-users to trust and download the software safely. So, whenever you sign your software, you create a package that includes your unique digital signature and a code signing certificate.
A code signing certificate comes with your identity (as the software’s publisher) and a public key. With it, you can add timestamps to your creations whenever you want without necessarily getting any special hardware.
You can obtain your code signing certificate online from reputable certificate authorities. To do so, you must create an account with your preferred platform, complete the verification process, and install the certificate.
How Does Code Signing Improve Software Security?
1. Enabling Secure Keys Storage
Code signing allows you to not only generate private keys but also store them in secure places. These keys are essential to authenticate code and ensure your certificate remains trustworthy and valuable.
When you store your keys in a safe location or restrict access to them, you also prevent them from getting into the hands of hackers. Often, these attackers may use the keys to sign malicious code and share it with your customers, selling it as legitimate.
One of the safest places to keep your private code signing keys is in certified hardware security modules (HSMs). It’s prudent to keep a record of all the keys you have for easier management.
2. Allowing You To Control Access to Keys
Another way code signing strengthens software security is by enabling you to limit those who can access and use your code-signing keys. This minimizes the chances of hackers compromising them and distributing malicious code to users.
You can establish effective approval and security policies to regulate access to your code signing keys. While at it, define and separate duties for authorized users, ensuring they cannot do much independently. Keeping audit logs or tracking signing activities is also an excellent idea, as it lets you know who accessed the keys and how they used them.
Only your trusted team should be able to use your code signing keys. This saves you time and effort because detecting hackers can be challenging, especially if they’re on the inside.
3. Facilitating Keys Rotation
Code signing keys are pretty much like passwords — using the same one across multiple platforms for a long time is a bad idea. So, here’s the thing. When you use one key and it is compromised, all the signed releases will be at risk. This means your entire network could be breached, and the damage to your brand could be irreparable.
Thankfully, code signing allows you to rotate your keys. With this process, you can also leverage unique and separate keys for each release, making it harder for hackers to breach your software.
4. Allows for Centralized Management of Certificates and Keys
Maintaining a centralized management system is a code-signing practice that could strengthen software security. With it, you can enjoy holistic visibility since you’ll have only one point of control. That makes it easier to regulate access to your code-signing keys and certificates.
At the same time, you can closely monitor signing activities and catch security vulnerabilities before they cause significant damage to your network. Additionally, a centralized management system helps you build an accountable team since you’ll know how each member uses your keys.
At this point, we hope you understand how code signing enhances the security of your software. Security is just one of the many advantages this digital technology presents. For instance, authenticating your software improves your brand reputation, bringing more customers to your door. As a result, this could increase revenue and help you expand your brand.
Nevertheless, code signing doesn’t guarantee software functionality and security. You may still need to leverage other advanced technology to protect your software from hackers and ensure it serves the intended purpose.