Why does Windows require a digitally signed driver?

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Installing a driver in Windows means allowing a software component to communicate with a hardware device on the computer. To ensure user safety, the system requires digitally signed drivers in order to preserve the integrity of the process.

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What is a digitally signed driver?

Claiming that a specific driver is digitally signed means that the vendor guarantees the authenticity of the data that will be installed on the system and blocks any modifications (or updates) that are not from the person or company that created it.

By default, the “Windows requires a digitally signed driver” error occurs whenever the user tries to install third-party drivers, without a digital signature and without proof of the security of their data — given the possibility that they are malicious software disguised as drivers.

How to install an unsigned drive

Windows allows the user to proceed with third-party driver installation by disabling digital signature verification enforcement. Although this option is not recommended, it is possible for an unsigned driver to be genuine or healthy and to enable a hardware’s capabilities. See below how to proceed:

  • Click on the Start menu (Windows button);
  • Press the power button and hold the Shift key;
  • Click “Restart” and wait until the Troubleshooting screen appears;
  • Select “Troubleshooting” and choose “Advanced Options”;
  • Enter “Startup Settings” and click “Restart”;
  • After the settings screen appears, press F7 on the keyboard to disable the enforcement of digital signature verification;
  • Wait for the computer to restart.
  • Remember that all digitally signed drivers are verified and are genuine. It is important to be careful when installing uncertified drivers as you risk compromising your data and computer security.