Code Signing Vs EV Code Signing – Which One You Should Choose?

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Code Signing Certificate vs EV Code Signing Certificate

Analyzing the Differences: Code Signing Certificate vs EV Code Signing Certificate

When it comes to bolstering the security of your software applications through code signing, two well-known options available are Code Signing Certificate and EV Code Signing Certificate. While these certificates share certain similarities, it is vital to grasp the fundamental distinctions between them to make an informed choice for your software security requirements. This article aims to compare Code Signing vs EV Code Signing, highlighting the factors that set them apart from each other.

But, before we start comparing code signing vs EV code signing, let’s understand what a code signing certificate is, its types, benefits, etc.

What is a Code Signing Certificate?

A Code Signing Certificate is a digital certificate that acts as an essential tool for software developers. These SSL certificates safeguard the integrity and authenticity of the developer’s applications, executables, drivers, and software programs. By digitally signing their code with this certificate, developers empower end-users to verify the untainted nature of the code they receive, reassuring them that it remains unaltered and unchanged by any malicious entities.

When a code signing certificate is applied to a file, it places a digital signature on it, utilizing an X.509 certificate. This signature acts as an unwavering guarantee that assures users that the file in question has not fallen victim to tampering or compromise since its signing. This invaluable assurance further instills confidence in users, providing them with the knowledge that the software they download is genuinely authentic and entirely secure for their usage.

Why is Code Signing Important?

Code signing is important for several reasons:

  • Establishing Trust: By signing their code, developers demonstrate their commitment to security and build trust with users.
  • Authenticity: Users can verify the integrity and origin of the software they are downloading.
  • Tampering Protection: Code signing helps prevent unauthorized tampering, assuring users that no modification or alteration has been done since it was signed.
  • Smooth Installation: Signed code ensures a smoother installation process on various platforms by avoiding security warnings.

Types of Code Signing Certificates

There are two types of code-signing certificates:

  • OV Code Signing Certificate (Regular Code Signing Certificate)
  • EV Code Signing Certificate

Let’s explore both of them in a summarized way:

Regular Code Signing Certificates

A regular code signing certificate offers a basic level of identity validation. Before issuing a regular code signing certificate, the CA confirms the publisher’s ownership of the private key used for code signing. You may also need to provide proof of business ownership and public or government records like DUNS.

EV Code Signing Certificates

It provide an enhanced level of identity validation and offer additional trust and reputation benefits. EV certificates require a more rigorous validation process, including verifying the publisher’s identity, legal existence, etc. In short, it requires extensive verification of the business.

Code Signing Certificate vs EV Code Signing Certificate

Validation Process

The validation process for both Code Signing Certificate and EV Code Signing Certificate involves confirming the ownership of the private key used for code signing. However, EV Code Signing Certificate goes a step further by conducting extensive verification of the publisher’s identity, legal existence, physical address, and operational presence. This additional validation process enhances the trust level associated with EV certificates.

Disbursement Limitation

Regular or OV (Organization Validation) code signing certificates can be issued to both individuals and organizations. However, the same does not apply to the EV code signing cert. EV certificates can only be issued to organizations and cannot be obtained by individuals unless they are officially registered as sole proprietors.

Issuance Time

The issuance time for a code signing certificate can vary depending on the CA involved. However, as a general observation, OV code signing certificates typically have a slightly faster issuance time compared to EV Code Signing Certificates. This discrepancy in issuance time can be attributed to the more comprehensive and rigorous validation process required for EV certificates.

Trust Indicator

Regular Code Signing Certificates show a digital signature as the visible trust indicator, confirming the authenticity and integrity of the signed code. On the other hand, EV Code Signing displays the digital signature with the company name as the visible trust indicator. This added visibility helps establish more trust and credibility for software signed with an EV certificate.


Code signing certificates are inexpensive compared to EV code signing certs. A standard code signing certificate starts at just $279.99/yr, but you must invest at least $329.99/yr to purchase an EV signing certificate.

Storage & Generation of Private Keys

From July 1, 2023, both OV and EV code signing certificates must store and generate their private keys using a Hardware Security Module (HSM), Hardware storage tokens, or a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that complies with FIPS 140 Level 2, Common Criteria EAL 4+, or an equivalent standard. This requirement makes both certificates identical in terms of private key storage and generation.

Encryption Strength

Both types of code signing certificates employ the same encryption strength using SHA-2, with up to 256 bits. This guarantees the integrity and safety of the signed code.


Neither the regular code signing certificate nor the EV code signing certificate provides any warranty. Therefore, the warranty aspect remains the same for both types of certificates.

RSA Key Length

The RSA key length for both the code signing certificates is typically either 3072 bit or 4096 bit, which assures solid cryptographic protection for code signing operations.

Device Compatibility

OV and EV code signing certificates offer exceptional versatility and broad compatibility across a wide array of devices and platforms. Regardless of whether you’re utilizing mobile devices or web browsers or if your preference lies with Mac or Windows operating systems, these certificates can ensure seamless operation on 99.99% of modern browsers and platforms. This extensive compatibility guarantees that the code you sign using these certificates will be readily acknowledged and trusted by users across diverse devices and platforms. This results in a smooth and secure user experience that leaves no room for doubt.

EV Code signing vs Code Signing – (Tabular Format)

BenchmarkCode SigningEV Code Signing
Maximum subscription durationThree yearsThree years
Issuance Time4-6 Business days4-8 Business days
Encryption StrengthSHA – 2, Up to 256-bitsSHA – 2, Up to 256-bits
RSA Key Length3072-bit or 4096-bit3072-bit or 4096-bit
Device Compatibility99.99%99.99%
Platform Compatibility99.99%99.99%
Validation TypeStandard validationExtended validation
Validation MethodBasic Business Validation and phone callBusiness validation and phone Call
Visible Trust IndicatorDigital signatureCompany name with digital signature
MS Smartscreen FilterNoYes
Delivery ModesUSB tokensUSB tokens
Time StampYesYes
Malware ScanNoNo
Free Vulnerability CheckNoNo
Technical SupportYesYes
Java SigningYesYes
Microsoft Authenticode SigningYesYes
Adobe Air SigningYesYes
Windows Vista x64 kernel-mode signingYesYes
Microsoft Office VBA signingYesYes
MS Office Document SigningYesYes

Key Differences Between Code Signing vs EV Code Signing

The key differences between these certificates are:

Code Signing Certificates:

  • The validation process confirms ownership of the private key. (Standard Validation)
  • It can be issued to individuals and organizations.
  • Generally have a faster issuance time.
  • Display a digital signature as the visible trust indicator.
  • Less expensive, starting at $279.99/yr.
  • It does not support instant recognition from Microsoft SmartScreen Filter.

EV Code Signing Certificates:

  • Extensive verification of publisher’s identity, legal existence, physical address, and operational presence. (Extended Validation)
  • Only issued to organizations, not individuals, unless registered as sole proprietors.
  • It has a longer issuance time due to a more rigorous validation process.
  • Display the company name along with digital signatures as the visible trust indicator.
  • More expensive, starting at $329.99/yr.
  • It supports instant recognition from Microsoft SmartScreen Filter.

When to Use a Regular Code Signing Certificate?

Regular code signing certificates suit most software applications, including desktop applications, scripts, drivers, and other common software types. If your primary goal is to establish trust and integrity for your software while not making a hole in your pocket, a regular code signing certificate is the option you should go for.

When to Use an EV Code Signing Certificate?

EV code signing certificates are recommended for organizations or individuals requiring an elevated trust and reputation level. If your software is distributed on a large scale, especially in enterprise environments, or if you want to ensure a higher level of user confidence, investing in an EV code signing certificate can provide additional benefits.


In summary, while both regular Code Signing Certificates and EV Code Signing verify the authenticity of software, the key differences lie in the level of validation, price, disbursement limitation, trust indicators, and issuance time.

Regular Code Signing Certificates offer a cost-effective solution with a faster issuance time. At the same time, EV Code Signing provides higher trust and credibility through extensive validation and prominent company name display. Consider your specific needs and budget when selecting the most suitable certificate for your code signing requirements.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.

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