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EV Code Signing Certificate vs Regular Code Signing Certificate

ev code signing certificate vs regular code signing certificate

EV Code Signing Vs Regular Code Signing Certificate – Which One You Should Choose? Get To Know The Difference Between These Two!

Digital technology has simplified our lives in many ways. Having all the essentials as well as luxuries at your fingertip, this technology is loved by the masses. And the penetration of mobiles has only increased the craving for more digitalization. 

Developers have presented these mobile users with apps that can be easily downloaded from their mobiles at any place and time.

Research (in the first quarter of 2021) indicates:

This ease to acquire products has led to an enhancement in mobile app downloads, which has been noticed by hackers. These scammers have eyed this mobile app platform to perform malicious activities by launching fake mobile applications along with genuine ones. 

When a user downloads an unsecured app (software), they may lose out on their sensitive data, and hence it’s essential to know the authenticity of the app, before downloading the same.

How to determine whether the application is genuine or not?

A Code Signing Certificate can help resolve this issue.

What is Code Signing Certificate?

Code Signing Certificates are usually a favourite of software developers because they help in securing their code with digital signatures. These certificates are proof that the app code is intact and authentic and not tampered with after its signature.

code signing certificate

Hence, the users trust apps that are digitally signed with these certificates and feel secure when they download the same.

If an app is not secured by this certificate, the software publisher may be shady, and Windows Defender may display warning alerts to caution the users.

Types Of Code Signing Certificate:

These digital securities are available in 2 types. They are:

  • Organization Validation (OV) Code Signing Certificate
  • Extended Validation (EV) Code Signing Certificate

What is OV Code Signing Certificate?

OV Code Signing Certificate is also called the Regular Code Signing Certificate. The Certificate Authority (CA) performs a routine vetting procedure of the company and later if satisfied, issues this certificate. 

Quick issuance within a couple of days and budget-friendly rates makes this certificate desirable for developers.

How does an OV Code Signing Certificate Function?

ov code signing certificate function

This regular (standard) certificate has limited variables for the verification process and once the same is completed, the CA issues this certificate. They send a certificate link and a private key via email, which needs to be downloaded by the publisher who later saves them on their computer. 

After the certificate is downloaded, the same can be used to sign executables, software, drivers, etc. by using the hash function. This ensures code authenticity and publisher integrity too.

Benefits:

  • These certificates guarantee code integrity since a hash function is used for securing the code. The utilization of two hashes, i.e., one during the code signing process and the other during the code download process makes this process more trustworthy. The match of both these hashes is the sign of an authentic code. Some codes are timestamped, which not only indicate the date of signing but are also valid post their expiry date.
  • User trust is raised when warning alerts are eliminated, and the software/app installation process is completed smoothly. 
  • Since the publisher’s name is displayed, users can easily connect with them and all the concerns regarding the download of an unsecured code are nullified.
  • The authenticity of the publisher is established when the software is authenticated with this certificate. User trust is gained, which in turn enhances app downloads and leads to a rise in revenue as well as publisher reputation.
  • Compatibility with various platforms like Windows apps and its software, iOS apps and its software, Java, Mac, etc. motivates developers to sign their apps and software.
  • Popular browsers prefer applications with code-signed certificates from trustworthy CAs to prevent unsecured codes from entering systems and networks.

What is EV Code Signing Certificate?

EV Code Signing Certificate provides supreme security since it undergoes a thorough vetting process. Both the company and the publisher are verified by the CA before issuing this certificate. 

One major benefit of an EV code signing certificate is the external storage of a private key. When the private key is stored on a USB device or any other external hardware, the security is strong, and management is easy.

How does an EV Code Signing Certificate Function?

ev code signing certificate function

When the concerned CA is satisfied with the verification process, they will issue this certificate. The verification process is lengthy in this case and hence the issuance time takes 3-5 business days.

Keys stored on an external device in case of EV code signing certificates are hence better secured than stored on the developer’s device/server which is the case of OV code signing certificates. Since the developer’s computer is more susceptible to theft, EV code signing is the most desired security solution for most software publishers.

Benefits:

  • Maximum verification and the supreme trust seal instantly connect with the end-users and gain their trust. When an EV code signing certificate is purchased from a trustworthy CA, it displays the highest level of security.
  • Internal threats and attacks are prevented since this certificate stores its private key externally. This eliminates all the insider threats wherein some rogue employees can misuse the private key for their benefit.
  • External threats are also avoided because the private key is stored externally and hence, only the concerned person can access the same for digitally signing executables/codes.
  • EV code signing certificates have 2FA (two-factor authentication) security, which makes them more reliable. The publisher must have the private key and the password to digitally sign the software. 

EV Code Signing Vs Regular Code Signing:

Now that the functioning and benefits of both these types of code signing certificates are clear, let’s have a peep into a few differences.

Variables EV Code Signing Certificate OV Code Signing Certificate
Verification Process The vetting process carried out by the CA is rigorous. The publisher’s integrity and the organization’s legitimacy are checked thoroughly before issuance. The vetting process carried out by the CA is basic. The organization’s entity and other details are checked before its issuance.
Issuance Time The issuance time is 3-5 business days due to strong verification. The issuance time is 1-3 business days due to basic verification.
Storage of Private Key The private key is stored externally on a USB. The private key is stored internally on the developer’s computer.
Security Factor This certificate has 2FA (dual) security since the software publisher needs the private key and its password to sign the app code. This certificate is less secure because the certificate and private key lie on the computer of the software publisher. The same can be easily copied to other devices for signing purposes. 
Chances of Vulnerability  The storage of the private key externally decreases the chances of security breaches. The storage of private keys internally increases the chances of security breaches. 
Price Factor The price of an EV Code Signing Certificate is higher than OV Code Signing Certificate. The price of an OV Code Signing Certificate is lower than EV Code Signing Certificate.
Usage Mode All Windows 10 kernel-mode drivers can be signed with this certificate. All the drivers and executables before Windows 10 can be signed with this certificate.
Microsoft SmartScreen Filter The Microsoft SmartScreen instantly approves and recognizes codes having EV certificates attached to them, which makes them more reputable. The Microsoft SmartScreen takes time to build a reputation in this type of certificate. The reputation is built gradually as the end-users download the code.

Final Thoughts:

The above comparison signifies that EV Code Signing Certificates are more promising in security as compared to the Standard Code Signing Certificates. Though the price of an EV certificate is a bit higher than the regular one, it’s worth the dual security it provides and the trust it portrays. 

Each developer should go for an EV code signing certificate since their reputation is instantly visible with such digital securities.

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