Android operating systems have become popular worldwide. The Google Play Store that contains Android Apps has left everyone else way behind it. It has even surpassed the “Apple App Store” regarding free applications. Android users can download numerous apps from the Google Play Store for free.
As millions of people are attached to it, making sure that the code is safe from malicious actors is of great significance for Android developers. The code signing certificates play a crucial part in this. They ensure that the app is safe from hackers and has not been modified post signature.
Malicious Attacks on Android Apps
Android allows individuals and companies to develop innovative apps for users. And the number of Android developers and applications keeps on increasing day-to-day. This has also attracted the attention of malicious actors who always try to exploit the code and use it for their benefit.
The negligence of the mobile app security by any developer can put millions of users in danger. Hackers use different techniques to change the code in a legit app. In this case, the users cannot determine whether the app is safe to use or not. This can have many dire consequences like losing private information, credit card details, and more.
Many such incidents have been documented over the years, and they call for a stop. The need for code signing certificates for securing Android apps arises here. Code signing certificates assist Android developers in improving the security of their apps so that the users can use them safely.
Code Signing Certificate
A code signing certificate utilizes asymmetric cryptography to protect the integrity of the code. It works the same as an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. The only difference is that the code signing certificate secures the apps, code, or other executable files and not the website connection. The developers use the code signing certificate to place their digital signatures on the code.
Once an app is signed with this certificate, no one can alter the information of the code. When the users install that app, they can see the publisher’s name that has developed the application. If a fraudster, anyhow, succeeds in altering the code after the publisher signs it, the users will see a clear “Unknown Publisher” warning on their system. In such a case, the developers can immediately take the necessary action to secure the app again.
This way, code signing certificates help secure the users and developers from cybercriminals. If budget is a constraint, then investing in the cheapest code signing certificate is recommended as they come from reliable CAs and serve the same purpose.
Working of a Code Signing Certificate
As already explained, a code signing uses asymmetric cryptography (just like SSL/TLS certificates) to protect the code from hackers. When a developer requests a code signing certificate, the certificate authority (CA) first checks its authenticity and issues it after proper validation.
The developer can then sign the code with its private key and can distribute it in the store so that people can use it. A hash mark is generated in this process. When users download that app, they can see the developer’s name. The public key is used to match the hash mark, and if they are identical, then the users can safely download and install the app.
Any fraudulent activity by cyberpunks can easily be detected on such apps. The code signing certificate does not remain valid if the hacktivist or even the developer tampered with the code. The developer will need to sign the code again if he wishes to update the application.
Advantages of a Code Signing Certificate for Android Developers
A code signing certificate is of great importance for Android app developers. Without a code signing certificate, they can’t even publish their code on the Google Play Store. Some of the essential advantages of a code signing certificate for Android developers are listed below.
• App Gets Featured on the Google Play Store
Due to the increase in cyberattacks on Android applications, Google Play Store does not accept applications without an authentic code signing certificate. So, if you want the developers to distribute their apps on the store, they will first need to activate the code signing certificate on the app.
This way, a code signing certificate helps the developer successfully distribute their app on the store for the end-users.
• Maintains the Integrity of the Code
Code signing certificates help you prove your app’s authenticity to the end-users. A code-signed app tells the users that the app is genuine and has not been tampered with post signature. The users and developers are informed if the code has been altered after the signing process.
You can see the “Unknown Publisher” warnings on such apps. The code signing certificate maintains the app’s integrity, enhancing users’ trust in your app and organization.
• Safe and Seamless User Experience
The code signing certificate ensures the users that the app is valid and can run it on their devices without any hesitation. The users do not receive any warnings or errors while downloading or installing such apps. This way, they enjoy a secure and seamless experience on the web.
• Improves User’s Trust
When the users download an app with an authentic code signing certificate, they can see the publisher’s details. Google tells them the app is safe to use, and the users download it without giving a second thought. It builds the trust relationship between the end-users and the app developers.
• Increases Revenue
Due to an increase in the number of cyberattacks on Android applications, users nowadays avoid downloading unauthentic apps. When they see an app signed with the code signing certificate, they download it directly with total confidence. So, if you will code-sign your app with a code signing certificate, then more and more users will download it, and there will be a significant increase in the revenues.
Code signing certificates are of utmost significance, not only for Android developers but the users as well. A code signing certificate maintains the app’s integrity and protects the users from falling prey to cybercriminals. If you do not sign your code, all your effort in making the app will go to waste, as users hardly download such apps, and you cannot even get it featured on the Google Play Store. The code signing certificate is crucial for mobile app security, and you must utilize it to stay safe from the reach of fraudsters.