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What is Code Signing? How it Works?

Background

Times have always been changing, bringing newer opportunities and challenges for us to explore and learn more. It is a similar case with technology, we have experienced a steep spike in technological evolution over the last few decades, this has come with its own set of challenges. We are seldom buying software products we need from physical stores. Everything has moved up to the web and more recently all services and products are turning cloud-native.

We download products and services from the internet. Therefore, the safety, security, and authenticity of software products and services procured online are important. To give you a broad overview, code signing solves the trust issues generally associated with software products. Whether you are a thriving software development organization, service provider, budding entrepreneur, or a start-up, you must acquire code signing certificates.

What Is Code Signing and Its Significance?

Code singing is a best practice that every technology professional or enthusiast should prioritize in their line of software development. Whether you are a software developer, company, or an end-user, you will experience code signing and its importance in your day-to-day life. It is a digital signature issued to your software programs by a Certificate Authority (CA).

Software developers and publishers use the hash function to encrypt and sign-off their code. The signature not only authenticates the software program but also covers the intellectual property (IP) of the product. Software codes that are not code-signed can raise eyebrows and often prone to malicious activities.

Unsigned code-based programs show the Unknown Source dialog box, if you choose to proceed then you are agreeing to risk your systems. Often the software programs that are not code-signed are blocked by anti-virus installed on your system.

Code signing generates trust among your clientele. Assures them about the authenticity of your product that it is not carrying any malicious program. Therefore, you cannot publish a certificate to yourself. Cheap code signing certificates are also not available off the shelf, you need to submit your request for a code signing certificates to one of the trusted CAs, which are as follows:

  • Custom
  • Entrust
  • GlobalSign
  • Sectigo (formerly Comodo)
  • Digi cert
Code Signing Types

Before we dwell on how code signing works? Let us take a quick look at the types of code signing certificates issued. There are two kinds of code signing certificates:

  • Standard
  • Extended Validation

Standard: The standard code signing certificates are the type that displays Microsoft SmartScreen warning message to your customers. The warning dialog box persists until you gain enough market trust via downloads and a reduced number of defects.

Extended Validation (EV): The EV code signing certificates are obtained after a detailed verification. Post EV, users do not experience frequent warming messages.

The Code Signing Process

After thorough verification, CA issues a code signing certificate which is a public and private key. Use the key to sign your software products and secure the code. The keys are valid for a limited period, provide legitimacy and authentication to your software products.

You must be curious to know how the code-signing process flows, see the following steps for a quick understanding:

  1. You start by deploying a software product with a trusted code signing certificate.
  2. The product code, if code-signed, carries is a digital signature ( a hash mark).
  3. When the software product is downloaded and you agree to proceed further, the digital signature is displayed.
  4. On your clients’ machine, the public key is used to decrypt the signature and ascertain the code signing certificate-based authentication.
  5. The hash values are validated, if the validation is a success, then download and further usage are allowed by client-side systems.

Note: Any hash mismatch results in an error message that prompts users to stall the usage. This is subject to user-side security and protocols.

Since the process is known to you now, let us try to sum up how to code singing works.

  • If you are a publisher, then you apply for a code certificate by sending your requirements to one of the trusted CAs.
  • Choose the type of certificate you want, CAs will do verification of your documents, digital, and physical addresses.
  • After detailed verification, if the verification is successful, you can generate a hash executable file that you can append to your software programs.
  • Use the private key to encrypt your code and prevent hacking and other malicious cyber activities.

You can now download the product with trust and confidence. The public key issued to your code signing certificate decrypts the hash. If the public and private keys match, you can use the program. The successful match only affirms that your software product and its code is safe to use. The program is code signed, without any hacks by unverified users.

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Guest Posts

How Does Your Brand Measure Up?

Did you read the recent Yahoo finance news article about 2013’s Top 10 Best Brands and Worst Brands in America? A company called “CoreBrand” conducts an annual survey to determine the most and least respected corporate brands based on the company’s “Familiarity and Favorability data.” This goes beyond the most well known, the most heavily advertised or the highest profit making companies. This measures people’s perceptions of a company’s trustworthiness and respect among consumers. Most of these major brands have an international presence, but the survey results are based on American sentiments.

According to the study results released August 20, these are the 2013 Top 10 Most Respected Brands:

  1. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola (tied)
  2. Hershey’s
  3. Harley-Davidson
  4. Bayer
  5. Johnson & Johnson
  6. Kellogg’s
  7. Campbell’s Soup Company
  8. Colgate-Palmolive
  9. Estee Lauder

And, according to the same study, these are the Top 10 Least Respected Brands in 2013:

  1. Delta
  2. Philip Morris
  3. H&R Block
  4. Denny’s
  5. Big Lots
  6. Best Buy
  7. J.C. Penney
  8. Capital One
  9. Rite Aid
  10. Foot Locker

Some of these results may surprise you, as your own personal experience with an individual company may have been excellent and you consider yourself a loyal customer. In some cases, you might have issues with their competition or there is no convenient alternative, so you must use their products or services regardless of whether you like the company or not.

The point is, if you are a business in today’s world and your customers were to be asked how satisfied they are with your products or services, how would your brand measure up? Most people want to believe that every customer is happy and consider complaints to be a reflection on the disgruntled customer themselves, not something that the company has actually done wrong or needs improvement. A smart manager realizes that a complaint is an opportunity to not only make things right for the customer, but a warning flag that something in your operations is not delivering up to expectations and needs to be fixed.

In my post about Amazon’s affiliate program, I mentioned how easy it is to earn money as an affiliate with Amazon because:

  1. Amazon itself is a globally recognized brand with a good reputation
  2. Amazon carries popular brands already familiar to people and rarely has products returned
  3. Although Amazon started out selling books, they have evolved and grown into a company that sells just about anything

Not only does Amazon do an excellent job of meeting each customer’s needs, they are constantly asking for reviews and have top notch customer service. Even if the product you sold didn’t meet your customer’s expectation, if you handle complaints well, in most cases you can keep that customer’s respect and rebuild their trust.

Safeguard all that hard work building your business and creating a brand. If your customer service is lacking, people no longer hesitate to take their complaints to the internet and warn their friends on sites like Facebook, YELP, TripAdvisor.com and Angie’s List. Bad reviews do scare away new business and cost you customers. Brand.com reviews the best ways to optimize search listings and protect brands for small business as well as large corporations.

The U.S. government’s Small Business Administration also has some excellent advice about managing a company’s online reputation and other business issues. Even companies that do not have a web site must be concerned with their online reputation and monitor the most popular sites regularly to protect their brand from negative reviews in directories and social media.

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Guest Posts Science & Nature

Amazing Science – Photons and Optical Fiber Cable

Today, most of our online data transmissions pass through fiber-optic cables. And as most of us know, fiber-optic cables are simply long, thin strands of glass which allow light to bounce and refract from one-end to the other without leaving the cable. It’s a bit like shining a flashlight down a long, mirrored tube.

One of the great benefits of fiber-optic cabling is that it can transmit multiple signals at the same time by combining different colors. (Photons with different wavelengths) Because of this, the number of simultaneous signals which can pass through a fiber optic cable is theoretically limited only by the accuracy and precision of the hardware. Compare this with a copper wire, which can only send one signal at a time.

But few people really appreciate how much incredible science goes into fiber optic networking, or the fascinating principles which govern this technology that has such a profound impact on our daily lives.

One of these principles is what’s often called the “Lifeguard Principle”, also referred to as the “principle of minimal action” or “principle of least action”.

Now I’m not a scientist, and I may slightly over-generalize in certain areas. But I’ll attempt to present these principles in the most accurate way that I can in laymen’s terms.

We all know that the shortest path from point A to point B is a straight line. But what about the FASTEST distance?

How to get from A to B?

For example, let’s assume that you’re a lifeguard that sees a drowning swimmer off in the distance. The shortest route to that swimmer would be to follow a straight line towards the swimmer through land and water.

From A to B in shortest path

But in a life-or-death situation, every second counts. The running portion of this trajectory may be very fast, but the swimming portion will be very slow. If you waste too much time swimming, the person you’re trying to save might drown.

From A to B in potentially shortest time (fasted path)

Another approach might be to run along the beach until you reach the point which offers the shortest swimming distance. Although this may take care of the swimming problem, now you’ve spent too much time running. Yes, this route may be faster than the “straight line” approach, but it’s still possible to shave off a few more precious life-saving seconds.

Somewhere in between these 2 strategies, there is a sweet spot where the combination of swimming and running time is reduced to the absolute minimum.

From A to B in shortest time (fasted path)

It’s possible to calculate this optimal trajectory using complex calculus, but I won’t bore you with that for this article.

Now let’s take this principle and apply it to a photon of light instead of a lifeguard.

If you’re standing in a boat and you point a laser at a fish in the water, what will happen?

Photons automatically travel in fasted path

Of course, we all know that the light beam will bend when it hits the surface. But how does the beam “decide” which angle to bend at?

Scientists have been able to calculate the speed at which light travels through different substances such as air and water. And when you combine the speed of light through air and the speed of light through water, you can make an interesting observation.

If you add up the time it takes for the light to go from the laser to the water and the time it takes for the light to travel from the water’s surface to the fish, it turns out that the trajectory which is taken by those photons is the shortest possible route for a photon of that wavelength.

In other words:

If the photon was a lifeguard and the fish was a drowning swimmer, the light would always pick the route which requires the least amount of time to reach the swimmer. And it’s this principle which dictates how the light decides to refract when it reaches the water’s surface.

To an untrained layman, this seems almost miraculous. It’s almost as if the photon could see into the future and plot a path to its final destination before it ever left the laser. And it’s almost as if the photon was able to perform the difficult calculus required to find the shortest possible path.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. But it’s a clear demonstration of how beautiful science can be.

This least-action principle is also critical to optical networking technology. When you send a message through a fiber optic cable, it truly does take the fastest possible route to its final destination. And if it wasn’t for the principle described above, Internet connectivity would not be possible.

There are many other implications which result from this phenomenon, but they are simply beyond my understanding so I couldn’t speak to those issues.

About The Author: Patrick Jobin is a technical writer with Storagepipe Solutions, a leader in serious server online backup services for datacenters and corporate networks.

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Business and Marketing Guest Posts Make Money Online

Reducing Bounce Rate, A Quick How and Why

It is vital to have a web presence in today’s digital world. With the large availability of high speed internet providers, it is also crucial to provide content that gets the attention of the visitor right away and makes them want to stay on the site.

Bounce rate is the amount of “single page” visits a site receives and this number must always remain low. The following list outlines ways for a site owner to reduce bounce rate and improve chances for success.

Focused Content

Site visitors will not be inclined to stick around if the content is not focused. It is better in the long run to choose a niche and write about it well rather than be more general and aim for hits. Also, the content should be based in fact and not opinion. The audience can always tell the difference and will also want to see facts backed up with evidence.

Post Presentation

The way a topic itself is presented in a post can make or break a site. The reader’s attention must be engaged from the first word or that person will not stay. Good presentation not only reduces bounce rate but also encourages the visitor to promote the site to friends or other interested parties. Word of mouth is the best advertising and it is free.

The right approach to presentation also promotes engagement through comments, subscribing to the site and sharing the link on social media. A high level of engagement can improve search engine ranking, as well, as site statistics improve with each visitor that doesn’t leave the site.

Good Navigation

Any website can be the most beautiful on the internet but if it does not have proper navigation, it will fail. Inability to find what is needed quickly is one of the top contributors to a high bounce rate. It is frustrating for both the visitor and site owner.

Let’s discuss some benefits of reducing bounce rate.

Conversions

Keeping visitors on a site can result in higher conversions for things such as sales, services, signups, downloads, etc. This can translate to greater PPC, as well. Offering digital downloads is a simple and convenient way to deliver goods, especially with most people using high speed internet providers.

Content Sharing

As discussed above, presentation is king and will encourage sharing of content. A link shared on Facebook or Twitter has the potential to go viral and lead to a huge increase in traffic. This in turn can translate into more conversion and more sharing. Proper presentation is invaluable and can only build upon itself.

Search Engine Ranking

A harsh truth about web presence is if a site isn’t well placed in the search engines, it can struggle to be noticed. Search engines can ultimately take into account a site’s bounce rate during indexing. This is why keeping the bounce rate low is so vital.

The online world is a very competitive place and this is especially true when running a website or blog. Taking some very simple steps to create an interesting presence will go a long way toward long term popularity and profitability.

Blake Sanders is a writer of news and information on high speed internet providers at broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. He also specializes in wireless internet, cell phones, and other technical news.

 

Note: Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude via FlickR Creative Commons.

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Guest Posts Internet Tools

Moredays: Cool Productivity Tool That’s Fun


Productivity tools don’t necessary make money for you, but they save money, especially those that help you keep organized, and save large amounts of data in one place so that you won’t have to access multiple sources to get much needed information. For people on the go, there’s no better, and more affordable solution, than productivity tools designed to sync between various devices, such as PC, tablets and smartphones.

Moredays is such a productivity tool – a cool calendar-cum-scrapbook  time management application based on photos and drawings. While many users will probably focus on creating cutesy calendars for their families, the business mind might reject it – and that would be a mistake. One of the best features of Moredays is that it records everything that is important to you.

When you add a new contact to your address book, Moredays can save complete information about the record, such as; when you added the contact, as well as notes, pictures and everything important related to that person. You can easily keep track of when you met your contact, and when you consult your notes related to that person, you will learn exactly what you were doing. To put it simply: Moredays is your personal diary, that can be accessed anytime, anywhere – because the information is saved safely in the cloud. Moredays is also a time saver, because, it’s so easy to use that even a child could figure it out, and because instead of having to type thousands of irrelevant tags to organize data, you can use a set of virtual “stamps”.

Another potential “cool” use for business, at the end of a contract with a customer, you can send her a printed version of your Moredays calendar together, as a reminder of the way you two conducted business every step of the way. A much better corporate gift than a keychain, if you know what I mean.

Moredays was designed to sync with Google Apps and Evernote – in the current beta these features don’t work yet, but they will with the public beta release in two weeks time. There are other features curently missing, like apps for iPhone and iPad – we expect to see them soon as well. In the meanwhile, why don’t you give Moredays a try? You’d be among the “early adopters.”