Why do you need code signing certificate for your Android app: Digital certificates known as code signing certificates are used to protect the integrity and validity of Android applications. Applications, executables, software, and drivers are all signed using them.
Why do you need code signing certificate for your Android app?
Code signing certificates are obtained from Certificate Authorities (CA). A CA is simply an organization trusted with storing, signing, and issuing digital certificates like code signing and SSL certificates.
What is the Significance of Code Signing in Android Applications?
Code signing plays a vital role in ensuring Android applications’ security, authenticity, and trustworthiness. When an Android application is signed with a code signing certificate, it offers several significant benefits for developers and end users. These include;
1. Verification of Authenticity
According to worrying estimates 84% of mobile applications do not have the capabilities for detecting if their source code has been injected with malicious code. This leaves all these apps vulnerable to cyber attack mechanisms like ‘app repackaging’.
In this attack technique, a cyber criminal would modify the existing source code of a mobile application to insert malicious code or perform unauthorized actions. Altering the app’s source code allows the criminal to inject their own functionality or perform malicious activities outside the intended functions of the app.
Here’s where the code signing certificate comes in. It employs asymmetric cryptographic hashes by signing your mobile application digitally so end users can validate the code’s validity and authenticity.
Once you’ve integrated your Android app with a code signing certificate, it becomes difficult for malicious actors to alter or tamper with the information stored in the app. If for whatever reason a cyber criminal manages to alter your code, the end users will see the ‘Unknown publisher’ warning message alerting them that the app or code they’re using could be unsafe.
2. A Code Signing Certificate Could Increase your App Downloads and Revenue
A code signing certificate could just be what you need to convince potential users that your app is legitimate. This trust factor can dramatically influence their decision-making process when it comes to downloading your app.
This could play a pivotal role in increasing your app downloads and revenue. Many users today are more aware of internet security and are more inclined to download applications with verified publishers than those with ‘unknown publishers.’
Essentially, the code signing certificate assures them that the app is distributed from a genuine source and hasn’t been maliciously modified or tampered with. So, thanks to the trust factor, your app would enjoy wider adoption and penetration.
This broader user base can create better opportunities for your smartphone app to attract new users and, even better, expand its reach. Also, thanks to the trust you establish by signing your app, you get to enjoy increased user engagement, loyalty, and retention rates, which can further contribute to your revenue growth.
3. You Enjoy Timestamping Benefits
When you’re issued with a code signing certificate it comes with an expiration date. The CAs set this to ensure that the certificates only remain valid for specified periods.
Here’s the problem with this ‘pre-defined’ validity period. When a certificate expires, it can raise concerns regarding the safety of using a signed code/application.
But, one of the best things about signing your Android app with a code signing certificate is timestamping benefits. Timestamping ensures that the integrity of the app you’ve signed remains preserved even past the expiration date of your code signing certificate.
Thanks to this feature, the code signing certificate keeps digital records of the exact date and time you signed your code. In this case, the timestamp acts as the reference point.
It gives irrefutable evidence that your code was signed with a valid certificate on a specific date and time, even if it expired. Smartphone applications with valid timestamps can still be trusted and verified even if the code signing certificates used to sign them have expired.
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4. Mitigation of Security Risks
Code signing also helps protect against a common attack vector known as “malware injection.” Malware injection occurs when a malicious actor attempts to modify a legitimate application and injects malware into its code.
With code signing, even minor changes to the application’s code will result in the verification process failing, preventing the installation of the
compromised application. This mitigates the risk of users unknowingly installing applications infected with malware.
It also allows for early detection of tampering attempts. Regularly monitoring the integrity of signed applications, allows developers to quickly identify any unauthorized modifications or tampering efforts. This enables them to take immediate action to address the issue and prevent the distribution of compromised versions of their applications.
5. Smoother App Distribution
App marketplaces and distribution channels, like the Google Play Store, often have strict guidelines and requirements for accepting and publishing Android applications. One such requirement is that applications must be signed with a code signing certificate.
This stipulation serves multiple purposes and brings several benefits to developers. For example, you can ensure smoother app distribution by complying with the code signing requirement.
As already explained, when an Android application is signed, it indicates that the app has gone through a validation process and comes from a trusted source. This validation instills confidence in app marketplaces and distribution channels, making it easier to submit applications and have them approved for distribution.
Also, signing an Android application with a code signing certificate helps developers avoid potential roadblocks or restrictions in the distribution process. App marketplaces often have measures in place to protect users from malicious software.
Requiring code signing is one such measure. Without code signing, developers may encounter hurdles in the app review and approval process.
Their applications might face delays or even rejection if they fail to meet the code signing requirement. This can significantly impact the distribution timeline and hinder the app’s availability to a wider audience.
Signing your Android applications is of great significance as it verifies the app’s authenticity, protects against tampering, and establishes trust with users, among several other benefits. So, it isn’t really a luxury but a necessity for savvy developers. So, sign your Android applications to enhance their overall security and credibility.
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