VeriSign Code Signing Case Study

Muvenum Observes an Increase in Online Software Sales The Month Following the Deployment of VeriSign Code Signing

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MuvEnum is dedicated to enhancing the digital experience by providing affordable, user-friendly software over the Internet. By using what it creates, welcoming feedback from users, thriving on customer satisfaction, and providing free one-on-one support, the company has developed a loyal user base of more than 20,000 people. MuvEnum’s flagship product is MuvAudio, an application that converts audio files into a format playable on any audio device with no loss of quality, including album art. The company provides other commercial software too, as well as freeware.

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Code Signing Saves users From Intimidating Warning Messages

MuvEnum launched its online software business in 2005. Sales grew steadily, but by 2007 the company realized that it was losing revenue opportunities because many users of 64-bit Microsoft operating systems were receiving intimidating warning messages when they tried to download MuvEnum software. These messages explained that the software they were attempting to download lacked digital code signing certificates and was therefore potentially dangerous. Digital signatures assure the recipient of downloaded software of the authenticity of the publisher and that the software has not been tampered with in transit.

Microsoft Authorizes Very Few CAs To Sign Driver Code

The problem became more acute with Vista’s rise in popularity and the growth of 64-bit users in the customer base. Therefore MuvEnum began experimenting with code signing certificates, but its first foray turned out to be an unfortunate waste of effort. After investing substantial time in another vendor’s certificates, the company found that they do not work for 64-bit kernel mode drivers such as the one included in MuvAudio. The reason, the company learned, is that Microsoft has specific restrictions for certificates that accompany such software when it is downloaded. They must be Class 3 cross-certificates issued by one CA that signs the public key for the root certificate of another CA. Cross-certificates provide a means to create a chain of trust from a single, trusted, root CA, in this case Microsoft, to multiple other CAs. Unlike VeriSign, many CAs do not support cross-signing. Furthermore, Microsoft has authorized only a select few vendors, including VeriSign, to issue CA-specific cross-certificates, which are used to code sign kernel-mode software for distribution, installation, and loading on Windows.

"The bottom line is that VeriSign is one of the very few CAs whose code signing certificates do the job for MuvEnum, or indeed for any publisher whose software contains drivers and who wants to tap the burgeoning 64-bit market," said John Rennemeyer, MuvEnum’s owner. "We checked each of the authorized vendors out, and VeriSign was the most reasonably priced."


VeriSign Combines Microsoft Authorization and Name Recognition

"Another advantage is that VeriSign has outstanding name recognition and trust," Rennemeyer added. "When customers open their certificates they can view the details and see the familiar VeriSign name that helps assure them that the software comes from MuvEnum so they can safely install our software without fear of viruses or other kinds of mal ware. Choosing VeriSign added security and peace of mind about the whole E-commerce experience for our customers and for us as well. From all points of view it was the right direction to go."


21%-Plus Sales Jump Testifies to Increased Customer Confidence

The warning messages disappeared as soon as MuvEnum implemented the VeriSign Code Signing Certificates, and the impact on customer confidence was immediate: online software sales leapt 21.1% the month after the certificates were introduced and have continued rising steadily ever since. While other improvements to the site may have helped contribute to this increase as well, MuvEnum identified VeriSign Code Signing as a key element to achieving this success.

MuvEnum also appreciates the ease of use of VeriSign Code Signing Certificates as well as VeriSign’s policies for using them. "Once we set up a script for VeriSign certificates, it was a snap to use it for other products as we launched them,” Rennemeyer explained. ""That saves us time and also, since a single certificate applies to all our products, it makes for consistency in the user experience and in our branding."

MuvEnum’s first year using VeriSign Code Signing Certificates went so well that the firm renewed them without hesitation—this time for three years. ""We wanted to take advantage of the discount that VeriSign provides on three year subscriptions," Rennemeyer explained. "Besides, even though the renewal process was easy as can be, why go through it any more often than necessary? Now we don’t have to think about it for another three years."


Windows 7 Release and Surge of 64 Bit Computing Compound VeriSign's Benefits

Microsoft's release of Windows 7 only adds to the benefits MuvEnum experiences from its choice of VeriSign to provide code signing. MuvEnum was quick to develop support for its products on Windows 7 and is now enjoying substantial additional sales as a result – all protected by VeriSign code signing. "The 64-bit version of Windows 7 is proving popular, especially with our kind of customers—those who appreciate an excellent audio-visual experience and therefore purchase high-end computers," Rennemeyer said. ""But soon, with the diving prices of computing power, it won’t matter just to the high end customers. Everybody will be buying 64-bit machines," he added in closing. "In fact, I expect the next release of Windows 7 will be 64 bits only, which would leave us powerless to make online sales without our VeriSign certificates. Without VeriSign we’d be dead in the water. VeriSign makes it affordable and easy to get ready for the mass move to 64-bit computing."


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