A code signing certificate is a digital certificate that establishes the legitimacy of software, app, executables, script, or code. The primary reason software developers should sign codes is to ensure that the code remains in its most original form and is not tampered with by malicious intruders. In essence, the code signing certificate fulfils two significant objectives- code validation and maintenance of code integrity.
Before we get down to the factors to consider when choosing a code signing certificate, we must first understand what a code signing certificate is. So, what is a code signing certificate? You have probably seen such an image while interacting with the internet:
You now know why a code signing certificate is essential. There are many cheap code signing certificates that you can choose to work with. However, you must acquire one to safeguard your code and software scripts from harmful alterations. You must obtain the certificate from trusted certificate providers.
The task of choosing the correct code signing certificate provider might be a bit hard, especially for newbies. However, you want a code signing certificate that gives you maximum benefits and finding the right certificate provider will help you avoid future regrets. There are several factors that you can consider when choosing the correct code signing certificate provider.
Before choosing a specific code signing certificate provider, you must first establish how popular the provider is. The code signing certificate provider that you choose should be recognized and trusted globally. The code signing certificate provider is trusted globally because it offers code signing certificates that give value to the buyers.
So before going for any code signing certificate, ensure that you trust the provider. The certificate the provider issues should also be trusted on a global scale. Multiple platforms should also trust the certificate provider and all the code signing certificates it gives.
All code signing certificates are usually attached to an expiry date. The codes remain valid for a given time frame, usually three years. After the validity period is over, the code signing certificate will expire. Your code, script, or software will then be treated as insecure.
The good news is that there is a way you can overcome this issue. Before choosing a certificate provider, it is important to ensure that it offers the time-stamping option. Through time stamping, your certificate will remain valid even after the validity period is over. In so doing, you will be minimizing the risks associated with an expired certificate.
Good Value for the Price
Different providers provide similar certificates but at different prices. There is no need to go for an expensive code signing certificate when you can acquire a cheaper one that gives the same benefits. Always compare the certificate prices to their added perks to ensure that they are aligned.
For instance, you must ensure that the certificate providers offer full-time support, and they offer good value with the functionalities. If budget is a concern, it is recommended to buy a premium yet cheap code signing certificate available with reliable online cybersecurity product providers.
Unlimited Signing via One Code Signing Certificate
Before choosing a certificate provider, you must ensure that the provider will allow you to sign an unlimited number of codes and software scripts within the period in which the certificate is valid. However, some certificate authorities do limit the number of times you can use a code.
Surely, you do not have to purchase multiple code signing certificates. It will be cost-ineffective, and it will make the cost of doing business extremely high. Therefore, before working with a specific certificate provider, it is essential to ensure that it provides the option to use one certificate on an infinite number of codes.
Does Code Signing Certificate Provider Have Dedicated Phone Support?
Dealing with IT-related infrastructure will see you run into problems that will require technical expertise to solve. Therefore, you will want to seek support to diagnose the issue as soon as possible. The availability of the code signing certificate provider to deal with such problems is very important.
When choosing a certificate provider, you must ensure that the certificate provider is available at all times to deal with any technical hitches. The certificate provider should avail multiple means through which you can reach out to them. One easy way you can reach out to the provider is through phone calls. If the certificate provider has not provided the contact information, such as phone number, then reaching out to them might be another hitch. The best strategy here is to avoid such a provider.
Does the Code Signing Certificate Provider have a valid mailing address?
From the technical perspective, all kinds of certificate providers should have valid and working mailing addresses. If a certificate provider does not have a valid mailing address, you should avoid acquiring your certificates from such authorities.
A valid mailing address will help you to validate the authenticity of the certificate provider. A mailing address indicates that the provider is a genuine authority and that you can transact with it without any worries. After validating the certificate authority, you can decide whether the provider is fit to do business with you. For instance, by establishing that the provider works from home, you can avoid it because it can easily compromise your codes and software scripts.
The Number of Code Signing Certificates Brand the Provider Offers
There are certificate providers who offer several code signing certificate options. Although this could signify that the provider is dynamic and that you are at liberty to choose from a wide range of certificates, I do not recommend such a provider.
Providers that offer different certificates may not be set up to provide adequate support to emerging issues about the code signing certificates. This is because the certificate provider may be overwhelmed with providing support to other certificate users. This situation could be a disaster in waiting.
It is recommended that you work with a dedicated provider specializing in offering a specific kind of code signing certificate. That way, if any technical issues arise, the certificate provider will adequately deal with the problems efficiently.
Innovation and Automation
As your business grows, you need to ensure that your certificate vendor scales and grows with you. It would be best if you chose a certificate provider that displays a high volume of capabilities to help you meet the future needs of your code or software scripts.
Automated lifecycle management is one of the critical factors that define a great certificate provider. For instance, all your certificates will have start and expiry dates. You do not want your code signing certificate to expire abruptly without your knowledge. An expired code signing certificate will lead you into problems and have huge revenue and customer implications. A good certificate authority should be able to handle the full life cycle of your code signing certificate automatically. Additionally, the authority should constantly remind you of the status of your code signing certificate.
Does the Code Signing Certificate Provider offer true 24/7/365 live support?
56% of customers will not deal with a business that does not provide 24/7 support. Therefore, choosing a certificate provider that will address your queries and deal with any technical hitches at all times is very crucial. Before deciding to work with a specific code signing certificate provider, ensure that the provider is available at all times to deal with your problems.
A good code signing certificate provider will deploy digital communication channels such as live chats and chatbots. Such infrastructure that delivers necessary support to customers is an absolute delight to the customers. Moreover, 24/7 customer support means that the certificate authority can engage its prospects whenever they need any help.
It would be best if you had real-time support, and therefore it is crucial to choose a certificate authority that offers 24/7 customer support.
The Certificate Provider Should be Easy to Deal With
From a commercial viewpoint, you must ensure that the certificate authority is easy to do business with—the flexibility of the certificate authority matters here. Find a certificate authority that gives flexible purchasing terms such as pay-as-you-go options to order code signing certificates on demand. Such operations make it easy to do business with a code signing certificate provider.
Does the Code Signing Certificate Provider offer a money-back guarantee?
Sometimes, the product that you buy will not always meet your expectations. Therefore, you must find a way to return the product to the vendors and have your money back. A trustworthy code signing certificate provider will offer money-back guarantee options.
Before choosing your certificate provider, you must ensure that it gives you the option to cancel your order and get a full refund within a reasonable time. Usually, most brands allow up to thirty days for buyers to return the products and receive their money back.
Certificate for Both Individual and Commercial Software Publishers
Software developers are usually characterized into two groups. The publisher could either be an organization that publishes commercial software or an individual or group that publishes their software and distributes it. Usually, most certificate authorities tend to support only commercial code signing certificates and not individual certificates. Therefore, you must do thorough research about a particular certificate authority to ensure that it has the certificate you are looking for.
Establish Whether the Certificate Authority is Trustworthy
There are several factors that you should consider when determining whether a certificate authority is trustworthy. If it is your first time working with a certificate provider, please ensure that the certificate authority can be trusted. It would help if you verified the following before working with any certificate authority:
- Verify that independent third parties such as WebTrust have audited the certificate provider to ensure that it meets all the standards to issue code signing certificates.
- It would be best if you verified that the certificate provider fully complies with the underlying certificate policies.
- You must ensure that the certificate provider is well regarded within your industry.
- Know the reputation of the certificate provider that you have chosen. A certificate provider with a good reputation will most definitely give an excellent code signing certificate that encourages success.
You do not have to be an expert in code signing certificate authorities to choose a certificate provider that gives you value and maximum benefits. However, before choosing a specific certificate provider, you must consider if the provider meets the thirteen thresholds mentioned above. This article has outlined the factors you must consider when choosing a code signing certificate authority.