Understanding EV Code Signing Certificate and How it Works and Knowing the Benefits of EV Code Signing.
Code signing is an integral part of every development project as it helps the developers gain the user’s trust and confidence. Whenever a developer or a development company wishes to launch their website, application, game, etc., their code needs to be signed. Signing the code means it has not been tampered with, altered, and compromised by a third-party entity in any way.
Two types of certificates are prevalent in code signing: an EV code signing certificate and an OV code signing certificate. EV means extended validation code signing certificate providing the maximum amount of trust to the visitors. Moreover, the certificate authority also pays higher attention to validating code. However, in organization-validated (OV) certificates, the code signing process is less rigorous than the EV code signing system.
In this article, we will understand what is EV Code Signing and how it works.
Extended validation or EV certificates include extensive vetting of the developer or publisher. The Certificate Authority (CA) undergoes a rigorous verification process to ascertain the identity of the publisher. As a result, the published code attracts higher trust and confidence from the end users.
A counterpart of EV code signing is OV code signing, which is less intensive than the former. In OV code signing certification, the CA will verify the identity of the publisher or developer, but the verification process only follows the basic checks. In most cases, the OV certificates are used by corporations, governments, and other entities. It does provide additional confidence to the users.
Compared to EV code signing, the EV code signing certificate takes less time to be authenticated. The private key entailing the code signing certificate completion process is stored in a physical hardware token.
The basic understanding of what is EV code signing is that it provides an extra layer of protection and security to the publisher and developer. The extra layer of security comes from an extended vetting process and additional hardware requirements. This ensures better integrity of the application or software code.
Programs, executables, software, etc., without a code signing certificate, will see a warning message,
“Do you want to allow the following program from an unknown publisher to make changes to this computer?”
So, one of the benefits of a code signing certificate is that the users won’t see the message above. Read on to learn the additional benefits of an EV code signing certificate.
Two-factor authentication has a private key that is stored on a USB device received after purchasing the certificate. Only the ones with access to the physical device can sign the code and access the EV code signing certificate. As a result, the code will get reinforced authentication and enhanced security.
The general public has become more aware and better informed today about the software and solutions they download from the web. People check for authentication and trust-enhancing aspects of software. They check the reviews, number of downloads, file extension type, etc.
However, with an EV code signing certificate, their trust can grow by leaps and bounds. This form of code signing certificate provides assurance that the software code is not modified or altered in any way.
With an EV code signing certificate, the above warning message won’t show. Hence, the users will feel confident about moving forward with downloading your software or application.
Building trust among your users is not the only benefit of EV code signing. Once the code is signed, popular browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari will start trusting it better. Moreover, this code signing will get the software in question trusted by Microsoft SmartScreen Filter.
The Microsoft SmartScreen Filter is a relatively difficult platform when it comes to gaining trust. But an EV code signing certificate gives the software authentication and trust.
Besides the two-factor authentication and private key, the EV code signing certificate also provides a physical token. This token is required to sign the code, and it further prevents any sort of unauthorized access or certificate abuse.
The physical token also ensures that the keys don’t need to be kept on your network. Hence, this makes security much more robust and stringent.
The EV code signing certificate has an optional timestamp. The timestamp provides the certificate with an additional property. That is, even when the certificate expires, it will continue to live on, which means that the publisher won’t have to resign the code.
Without a timestamp, when the certificate expires, the publisher has to resign the code.
EV code signing certificate involves stringent validation requirements, and it is only provided to businesses, non-profits, and government agencies. In other words, these certificates are not provided to individuals and freelance developers.
Moreover, the entity applying for the certificate needs to get a signed copy of the EV subscriber agreement, a signed copy of the EV authorization form, company details, attestation letter (in case of a licensed professional), among other documents.
The CA will then conduct a detailed verification of all the submitted documents and information before assigning the code signing certificate.
This sums up our discussion on what is EV code signing certificate. The Extended Validation provides the software patch, executable, application, etc., with a higher form of trust and confidence. It makes the code script more secure.
EV code signing certificates get instant Microsoft SmartScreen approval. This is one of the most challenging approvals to obtain for a code signing certificate. The SmartScreen filter will check the code file against the list of well-known, reputable, and downloaded files on the web. In case the code file in question does not exist on the list, SmartScreen will warn the users before downloading the software.
Note that it is not mandatory to get approval from SmartScreen filters, but getting it lends a higher form of trust and security to your software. The EV code signing certificate provides developers with an immediate reputation. As a result, the users will never have to click through the pesky SmartScreen warning.
Until now, it is clear that EV code signing is a comprehensive validation process. The certificate authority providing the validation process undergoes a comprehensive process.
- The developer submits the original code with the help of a hash function to create a digest.
- The digest is then encrypted with a private key to create an Encrypted digest. The encrypted digest is then sent for the certification process. This is where the software package, application, executable, etc., is verified, and the publisher is also verified.
- Once the CA verifies the identity of the publisher, a signature block is created, and the signed code is rendered, verified, and authenticated.
This vetting process can take up to 6 days to complete in the EV code signing process. But in others like an OV code signing process, the process is usually completed in less than two days.
Getting the code signing certificate becomes even more manageable if you choose the right partner for the process. The right vendor will help you gain a better understanding of the entire process and provide the certificate at affordable prices. They also provide continuous support and maintenance services to their clients.
The EV code signing certification process is about creating a safety net for the publisher or developer before they launch the solution. With the code signing certificate, the publishers will gain the trust and confidence of the end users. They will not hesitate before downloading the software.