How Does an EV Code Signing Certificate Work?

How Does EV Code Signing Certificate Works

Have you ever heard about EV Code Signing Certificate? If not, you must know what it is and how it works. Generally, Code Signing certificates are of two types: the OV Code Signing certificate and the EV Code Signing certificate. This blog will discuss the EV Code Signing Certificate, its features, and its functioning.

What is an EV Code Signing Certificate?

An EV Code Signing certificate stands for Extended Validation Code Signing. This type of certificate is considered to have the highest level of trustworthiness and is universally recognized as the most valuable certificate due to its unparalleled level of security. In addition, the private keys in the EV Code Signing certificate are stored externally to preclude unauthorized use.

EV code signing certificates are an excellent amalgamation of varied security benefits. It provides the advantages of digital signatures on codes and a rigorous verification process. This brings high security and meets all code security requirements.

These Certificates verify the publisher’s authenticity when they sign their software/app. It is because their name and company name are visible on the software. This enhances user trust and confidence since they portray app/software integrity. They also bypass Microsoft SmartScreen warning alerts, clearing user’s doubts about the software’s credibility.

Various brands sell these certificates. Web developers can select the CA and brand according to their budget and secure their applications. For strong code security, all developers must buy a code signing certificate. EV Code Signing certificates are a great choice for your software security and is highly recommended.

But before that, we’d like to educate you about how it works so you can make the right choice.

How Does an EV Code Signing Certificate Work?

Get an EV Code Signing Certificate for Quick Application Reputation from Microsoft SmartScreen.

Many web developers are ignorant of the above fact, but the statement is true. How do these certificates function? How do they secure codes? These are doubts raised by many software publishers/developers.

Let’s discuss the entire process, from code validation to digital signatures on codes.

Sign your Code using External Hardware Token

You may have heard that the key to this certificate is stored on external hard drives. But how?

Lets’ go through the entire process and find out how this works.

Purchase Process of EV Code Signing Certificate:

The vetting process is the common factor in the purchase process of a regular code signing certificate or an EV code signing certificate. But the difference between the two is that the latter goes through an extensive vetting process by the CA. This process takes a time of 1-5 days.

Any lapse in providing the necessary documents may delay the issuance process or even lead to rejection for availing the certificate.

Private Keys on External Hardware:

Do you know what the difference is between an OV Code signing certificate and a regular code signing certificate? It’s private key storage.

In OV code signing certificates, the private key is not stored on an external drive; hence, it’s easily accessible to many people. In contrast, in EV code signing certificates, the private key is stored on an external hardware token, preventing hackers from accessing it.

Since this key is used for digitally signing applications and software, securing this key from intruders is vital. In case the key falls into the wrong hands, there are chances of insertion of malicious codes into the apps/software.

Storage of the key on external hardware token/ USB token prevents unauthorized personnel from accessing it and misusing it for digitally signing apps. It also reduces the chances of keys being compromised, misused, misplaced, or lost.

Note: Kindly place the external hardware token in a secure location.

ev code signing process

Functioning of EV Code Signing Certificates:

Hashing: After creating the software, the hashing process is initiated. When software is hashed, it ensures the end users that the software they intend to download is trustworthy and not compromised.

When software is tampered with, it will fail to indicate the correct hash values, which becomes a warning sign for the browser and users that the software is compromised and risky to download.

Signing: After the hashing process is over, the next step is the signing process. In the signing process, the external USB token, which has the private key stored on it, will be used for digitally signing applications, software codes, scripts, executables, etc. This key will also timestamp your software/application. When a code is timestamped, the signature will be valid even after the expiry of the certificate, but in the absence of timestamping, the signed Code will be invalid (expired), and you need to re-sign the same.

When software is signed digitally, the name of the publisher/developer of the software is displayed, and the users can easily judge the trustworthiness of the software.

In case of the absence of a digital signature, “Unknown Publisher” will be visible in the name field, which warns the users about the non-authenticity of the software.

Download: After the completion of the hashing process, the signing process, and the timestamping of the software, the download process commences.

Congrats!! Your software/application is ready for download

End-users can easily download your digitally signed and timestamped software without any hassles. Apart from users, well-known browsers, Adobe AIR, Java, Mac OS X 10.5+, and MS Office VBA are also ensured about the integrity of the software, and they trust such software wherein the publisher’s name is displayed.

Difference Between OV & EV Code Signing Certificates:

Here’s the key difference between an OV Code Signing Certificate and an EV Code Signing Certificate:

  • With OV Certificates, the reputation of your software grows naturally as more people download and use your app or software.
  • But with EV Certificates, your software gets a special nod right away from the Microsoft SmartScreen reputation checker.

Apart from the storage of the private key, which is done on external hardware token in the case of EV certificates, some other differences include:

  • The rigorous vetting process of EV code signing certificates is compared to OV code signing certificates; hence, the issuance time of the former (1-5 days) is slightly more than the latter (1-3 days).
  • The price of an EV code signing certificate is high compared to a regular code signing certificate.
  • After digital signatures are placed, EV code signing certificates benefit from instant recognition of the Microsoft SmartScreen Filter. In the case of regular code signing certificates, the reputation is built after the download count.

Benefits of EV Code Signing Certificates:

A Few vital benefits which make EV Code Signing Certificates more desirable are:

  • Instant Microsoft SmartScreen Recognition
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Timestamping
  • HSM (Hardware Security Modules) is supported.
  • Secured location (external hardware token) of the private key
  • Multiple platform compatibility
  • Affordable and manageable

Final Words:

The EV Code Signing certificates are compatible with various platforms, and their SHA-2 encryption and 3072-bit/4096-bit RSA keys instantly secure your software codes.

It is essential to have EV code signing certificates if you wish to gain instant SmartScreen Recognition for your software. It not only prevents warning alerts but also ensures the reputation of your software.

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