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Let’s come straight to the point! The answer is NO. There can never be free code signing certificates. Code Signing Certificates are not even available for a free trial run. And even if someone is offering you one, be very alert and cautious.
Code Signing certificates are X.509 certificates used to digitally sign software to ensure the authenticity of the software. This helps protect users from downloading and running malware or other malicious code.
The unavailability of free Code Signing certificates might be a topic of discussion. In reality, there are multiple reasons why it is impossible to have a code signing certificate that comes at zero cost.
Let us discuss the reasons.
The use of free code signing certificates can present a number of risks for users, developers and organizations. Some of them are:
Using a free code signing certificate can make the software look authentic but does not guarantee the software’s authenticity or the developer’s. This can put the users at risk of downloading and running malware or other malicious code. A number of risk factors are associated with having a free code signing certificate.
There is no authentication cost associated with free code signing certificates because a trusted CA does not issue them, so naturally, the process of authentication and validation is not performed. However, in reality, free code signing certificates are often issued by untrusted organizations or individuals who usually do not have the resources or expertise to perform the necessary authentication and validation processes. As a result, they may not have the same level of trust and security as paid certificates.
Moreover, free code signing certificates are often offered to attract users to a product or service, and the issuer may not be interested in incurring the costs associated with the authentication and validation process.
The process of issuing a code signing certificate involves a significant amount of trust and verification, which can only be availed by paying for a service. The lack of trust, validation, liability, revocation, support and limited trust associated with free code signing certificates can cause significant damage to the user’s system.
The use of free code signing certificates can have significant security risks and negative consequences for users, developers, and organizations.
Due to all these reasons, it’s recommended to use paid code signing certificates from a reputable certificate authority by going through a validation process by the software developer and the software itself for a secure and reliable option.
Let us now discuss the benefits of having a Code Signing Certificate from a reputed CA.
When a user attempts to run software that has been signed with a code signing certificate, the user’s device or operating system will check the certificate to ensure that it is valid and trusted. If the certificate is not recognized or trusted by the device or operating system, the user may see a warning message indicating that the software is from an unknown publisher.
A Code Signing Certificate from a reputable CA can help eliminate this warning message as it will be recognized and trusted by a wide range of devices and operating systems.
When a CA issues a code signing certificate, it goes through a thorough validation process of the software developer and the software itself and only issues the certificate if the software and developer are legitimate. This validation process helps establish trust and credibility for the software and the publisher.
Once the certificate is issued, the CA will distribute the certificate’s public key to a wide range of devices and operating systems through various channels, such as browsers, device manufacturers and OS vendors. This allows the devices and operating systems to recognize the certificate as trusted and eliminates the unknown publisher warning.
If the Code Signing Certificate is recognized and trusted, the user will trust and download the software. A trustable CA can help establish trust and credibility for the software and the publisher. A thorough validation process of the software developer and the software ensures that the software is legitimate. Also, it allows the devices and operating systems to recognize the certificate as trusted. Thus, it is more likely for the users to trust and download the software.
Additionally, a reputable CA also provides a user-friendly, streamlined process for obtaining and managing digital certificates, making it easy for businesses to get and keep the certificates they need up to date. They also provide a wide range of tools and resources to help businesses understand and manage their digital certificates.
A renowned code signing CA can positively influence a brand’s credibility by providing a secure and trustworthy environment for users to download software.
A well-known CA ensures the software and its publisher undergo a thorough validation process. By doing this, the CA is essentially vouching for the software’s authenticity and the developer’s authenticity and trustworthiness.
When a developer signs the software with a code signing certificate, the CA will encrypt a hash of the software with the private key of the code signing certificate. The encrypted hash is called a digital signature. This digital signature is then embedded into the software, and the certificate is also distributed along with the software.
When a user runs the software, their system will use the certificate’s public key to decrypt the digital signature and compare it to a newly computed hash of the software. If the hashes match, it means that the software has not been tampered with since it was signed, and the integrity of the code is guaranteed.
A trusted CA adds a digital signature for code integrity by ensuring that the software developer and software are legitimate and that the private key used for signing the software is kept secure. Additionally, the CA also has a provision for revocation in case the private key is compromised or the software is determined to be malicious.
Microsoft SmartScreen is a security feature built into Windows and Internet Explorer. It is designed to help protect users from downloading and running malware or other malicious code. SmartScreen uses a reputation-based system to help identify potentially malicious software and warn users before downloading it.
A software’s SmartScreen score is based on a number of factors, including the reputation of the software publisher and the certificate authority (CA) that issued the code signing certificate. Software signed with a code signing certificate issued by an authorized CA is more likely to be recognized and trusted by SmartScreen, which can result in a higher SmartScreen score.
A Code Signing certificate from a renowned CA can boost a software’s SmartScreen score by going through a thorough validation process of the software developer and the software itself and only issuing a code signing certificate if the software and developer are determined to be legitimate. Additionally, a trusted CA also distributes the certificate’s public key to a wide range of devices and operating systems through various channels, such as browsers, device manufacturers and OS vendors, which allows the devices and operating systems to recognize the certificate as trusted and improve the SmartScreen score.
This is how an authorized CA can make all the difference.
Read Also: Java Code Signing Certificate Tutorial
You can always avail of these certificates from an authorized seller at a cheaper cost.
One such authorized seller is Comodo. Though they don’t offer a free EV Code Signing Certificate, they definitely offer a cost and time-efficient way of protecting your code and fostering customer trust. Thus, they are widely used on the Internet, and their trust seal is easily recognizable by online customers.
Another such valued certificate seller is Sectigo which has a long history and reputation as a trusted and reliable provider of digital certificates. It has been in the business for over 20 years and has built a reputation for providing high-quality, reliable certificates.
We have listed some of the cheap Code Signing Certificates these reputed Certificate Authorities sell.
These are some of the best and cheapest Code Signing Certificates.
To summarize, the whole process of Code Signing vetting consumes a significant amount of time and requires money. So there is no way it can be done for free. Now that you know the importance of a code signing certificate, get it from a recognized CA by paying money and never look for an easy way out by getting a free Code Signing certificate.