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If you or your organization is responsible for developing or manufacturing software, configuration files, drivers, or other content that requires code, then a code signing certificate is essential. A code signing certificate attaches a digital signature to code that shows who published it and validates that the content has not been altered in any way since it was signed. This is beneficial to your cybersecurity because it prevents tampering and malware proliferation. It’s also beneficial to your organization’s reputation because it creates a greater sense of trust in your brand and products because end users can verify that the code really came from you.
If you’ve found this article, it’s likely that you’ve already purchased a code signing certificate and want to start using it. However, before you can do so, there are a few things you’ll need to do first. One of the first steps is to generate a certificate signing request (CSR) — a process that we’ll walk you through momentarily.
Note: Even though they share the same name (a certificate signing request), when you request a code signing certificate, it’s a different process than the one you’d use when generating a CSR for an SSL certificate.
If you haven’t bought a code signing certificate yet, it’s vital that you buy one from a trusted certificate authority (CA) such as Comodo CA, powered by Sectigo:
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When you create a certificate signing request for a code signing certificate, you’re creating an encoded message about who you are as the requestor. This message will include several key pieces of information such as:
This information will be sent to the trusted certificate authority (CA) that will issue the code signing certificate. Let’s take the following as an example: Say you’ve purchased a code signing certificate from Comodo CA. When you generate the CSR, information about your or your organization will be sent to Comodo as the CA and will state that you’re requesting a digital certificate.
Here’s how to request a code signing certificate in Windows via your web browser:
A certificate signing request is a relatively straightforward process. We recommend using Firefox for this process because the browser has a unique function that allows the CSR process (and accompanying public/private key) to be generated quickly, securely, and easily.
To generate your code signing certificate request:
This process will result in the issuance of an order number.
To receive your code signing certificate from your trusted CA, the next thing you’ll need to do is validate your code signing certificate. Once the validation is complete, the CA will issue and send the certificate to you as the certificate requestor via email. What you’ll need to do at this point is download the certificate as a PFX (.p12) file and save it to your desktop and export the file in FireFox.
Note: Be sure to use the same computer and browser you used to generate the CSR to complete this process. This is essential because your private key is stored on the computer you used to generate the code signing CSR.