Using of EV Code Signing Certificate - A Quick Guide

PUBLISH DATE: 22 Jan 2021

Step-by-step guide on how to sign your application using an EV code signing certificate

As a new developer or an organization that has not yet built a brand name for itself or established trust amongst its user base, it can often be challenging to get customers to download a program or an application. This is where a code signing certificate generated by a trusted certificate authority (CA) can step in to authenticate the publisher's identity and secure users from inadvertently executing malicious code on their systems. A code signing certificate is used to assert a developer's identity as well as provide assurance that the software has not been modified or tampered with since it was last signed by the application author. Out of the two options you have when considering signing using a code signing certificate, an EV code signing certificate has distinct advantages and is more reliable than a standard code signing certificate.

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What is an EV Code Signing Certificate?

The EV code signing certificate file contains a digital signature that is attached to applications or software to authenticate the developer and maintain file integrity. It ensures avoidance of code tampering since it was last signed by the software publisher. An EV code signing certificate involves a more rigorous validation process when compared to the approval process for a standard code certificate. However, the level of trust it commands in users, and the benefits provided by an EV code signing certificate, is also much more than that of its standard counterpart.

Benefits of an EV Code Signing

There are numerous advantages to using EV code signing for your applications. Following are a few of the benefits:

Provide additional security to users

To avoid misuse or unauthorized access to the certificate, an EV code signing certificate uses a physical hardware token in order to sign an application. This implies that because the keys are stored on an external hardware device, attackers can't breach the network to compromise the keys.

Build a customer base and establish brand trust

For new programmers who wish to avoid the Windows SmartScreen filter, an EV code signing certificate is a boon. It is the sole code signing certificate that provides an option to bypass the Windows SmartScreen filter and establish trust in their software without any pre-existing reputation.

Assure end-users that file integrity is maintained

In this age of frequent data breaches, security-conscious customers are extremely averse to downloading third-party software from unverified sources on their systems. An EV code signing certificate displays the verified software publisher information and assures the user that the file they’re downloading has not been tampered with since it was last signed by the author.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the various prerequisites and steps involved in signing your application using an EV code signing certificate.

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Before you can move forward with signing your application using an EV code signing certificate, the requirements outlined below must be met:

  • Compile your application and ensure that it’s been built effectively.
  • Complete the entire setup process of the SafeNet Client without errors.
  • Use a computer that runs on Windows operating system.
  • Successfully install Windows Development Kit in your system.

Five Simple Steps to Sign Your Program Using an EV Code Signing Certificate

Once you have the aforementioned prerequisites in place, it’s time to move ahead to the actual signing process.

  • 1. The first thing you need to do is plug the token that you received from your Certificate Authority (CA) into your computer.
  • 2. Next, open the SafeNet Client.
  • 3. Once you open the SafeNet Client, open Command Prompt in your computer and execute the command below:
     /tr /td sha256 /fd sha256 /a "Enter the_path_to_the_file_you_want_to_sign "
  • 4. The SafeNet Client will then open up a prompt window asking you to input your password for the token.
  • 5. Once you type in the password correctly, the application will be signed.

After you’ve signed your application using the EV code signing certificate, you can then start distributing your application to your end-users. If you feel the need to ensure whether the application was successfully signed, follow the steps listed below.

Steps to Verify Your Signed Application

If you are fairly new to signing, or even for those who’ve been doing it for quite some time, it doesn’t hurt to cross-check that your application has been signed successfully. This will allow you some peace of mind and minimize any hindrances that you may otherwise face while distributing your application to your end-users. The steps listed below will help you check the signing of your application:

  • 1. Go to the folder of the application you signed in the previous steps.
  • 2. Right-click on the application you signed and select the option labeled Properties.
  • 3. From the properties window, click on the tab named Digital Signatures and you should be able to see a valid signature displaying your organization’s EV code signing certificate under the signature list.

In case the tab Digital Signatures is not showing up in your system, it indicates that the application has not been signed successfully. At this point, you will need to go back to the tool previously used and re-sign the application.

After your extended validation code signing certificate is authenticated and showcased on your application, you are now all set to release your application in the market since it is customer ready!

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this article has helped you out with the steps to signing your application using an EV code signing. With the advantages that EV code signing has to offer its users, it is evident that it is not just beneficial to developers but also for users to verify the legitimacy of any software. EV code signing is the safest way for companies and organizations to significantly diminish their risks of getting attacked by cybercriminals that might compromise their credibility within their user base.

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