The explosion of the internet, consumer applications for mobile and desktop devices, and the proliferation of malware have made it essential for every software publisher to use code signing tools.
A code signing tool is similar to a document signing tool but serves a different purpose. A document signing tool uses digital signatures to validate that all parties have agreed to all terms and the document hasn’t been modified since. In contrast, a code signing tool uses digital signatures to ensure that it was created by the claimed developer and hasn’t been altered since.
So, if you are a software publisher and looking for a code signing tool, it is essential for you first to understand how code signing works and what its common use cases are.
Here is a complete guide about code signing and the list of the best five code signing tools of 2022.
How Does Code Signing Work?
Digital signatures are cryptographic artifacts that validate the authenticity of the signed data. They use private keys to generate signatures and a related public key to validate them. A digital signature can only be generated by people with knowledge of a private key, whereas anyone can validate its authenticity with the public key.
Digital signatures are used to sign various types of data, and code signing tools are used to validate the authenticity of the software. By sending a digital signature alongside the code, the creator allows users to validate that the code is authentic and hasn’t been modified since it was generated.
In other words, a developer adds a digital signature to code using a private key from the code signing certificate. When a user downloads the signed code, the system software uses a public key to decrypt the signature. The system then looks for a certificate with identity to authenticate the signature.
Code signatures are essential for the operating system’s decision regarding the authenticity of a particular program. Software that doesn’t include a code signature from a trusted public key can’t even run on some platforms.
What Are the Common Use Cases for Code Signing Tools?
Code signing tools enable developers to affix a digital signature to their code that benefits in many ways. Some of the common use cases for code signing tools are:
A code signing tool validates that the software has not been modified to insert malicious or unwanted functionality. A digital certificate is invalid if the signed data has been modified since it was generated.
All trojans and malware pretend to be legitimate software to gain access to a computer and breach data access. Using a code signing tool validates this harmful software by ensuring whether its maker created it.
Protecting Against Third-Party Attacks
Third-party attacks lead to the modification of legitimate code to contain trojans or malware. A code signing tool can make these attacks more difficult as the attacker needs to have their malicious code signed to be trusted.
Though using code signing tools is a great advantage, securing the code signing process is also essential. If the malware can gain access to signing keys or get its code signed by an organization, then the malware code looks legitimate to users
The Top 5 Code Signing Tools Of 2022
There are a variety of code signing tools available, which are designed for specific use cases. Among them, here are the best five signing tools
- SignTool by Microsoft
- SignServer by PrimeKey
- GaraSign by Garantir
- Unbound Key Control by Unbound Tech
Code signing sometimes can be daunting, even for experienced developers already familiar with it. However, using a SignTool can make code signing easy. SignTool is a command-line tool designed by Microsoft that digitally signs files and verifies the signature and timestamps files. Some of its core capabilities are
- It is available as part of the Windows SDK
- It offers command-line code signing
- It selects the best certificate based on specified options
SignServer is a flexible digital signature software created by PrimeKey that enables a wide range of digital signature use cases and formats. It gives maximum control and security, allowing users and applications to conveniently sign code, PDF documents, XML, and more. It is an open-source code-signing tool capable of protecting signing keys in the Hardware Security Module (HSM) and can-do server-side code signing in appliance and cloud-based form factors.
GaraSign allows enterprises to securely integrate their security systems in a way that doesn’t disrupt any business processes. GaraSign can centralize and simplify the management of your enterprise’s most sensitive areas, including access management, identity management, secure software development, code signing, data security, and more. Besides, its core capabilities are integration with standard CI/CD pipeline software, verifying hash authenticity by building repo code, and client-side hashing improves network transport and signing speed.
Unbound Key Control
Unbound Key Control is designed by Unbound. It is a software-based code signing solution that ensures the most sensitive key never exists in the clear at any point in the lifecycle, not even when generated, in use, or at rest. The Unbound Key Control has HSM level security for keys implemented in software and auditing tools for code signing actions and is integrated with DevSecOps processes. It also offers a platform-agnostic solution for centralized code signing management.
SignPath makes code-signing simple and secure and provides automated, repeatable, and fast code-signing processes in the cloud and on-premises. With SignPath, you don’t need to bother about where to store your private keys, how to integrate them, how to configure different signing methods, or where to find a suitable timestamping server. Some core capabilities include integration into CI/CD pipelines, offering origin verification for software artifacts, providing security policy enforcement for automated code signing processes, and can-do nested signing of all files within the package.
A code signing tool is essential for ensuring the authenticity of the software’s author and proves that the code has not been tampered with or altered since it was signed. So, before publishing any software, you need to use the appropriate code-signing tool best to your needs. You can use the above guidelines to choose the best code-signing tool.