The Digitalist Team
April 26, 2024

Common Criteria Certification Process: Costs and Challenges


min reading time

The Common Criteria certification stands as a cornerstone in cybersecurity, offering an internationally recognized benchmark for assessing the security attributes of eligible IT products. Recently, significant shifts have been noted in the landscape of Common Criteria, particularly in the transition from SOG-IS to EUCC. This transition, anticipated to have a profound impact, highlights the evolution of the certification scheme within the European Union.

The EUCC, built upon the well-established SOG-IS Common Criteria evaluation framework used across 17 EU Member States, introduces new dimensions to enhance cybersecurity certifications in the EU.

The Common Criteria certification process offers two levels of assurance tailored to the perceived risk associated with the intended use of the product, service, or process. It serves as an independent verification mechanism, ensuring that products meet rigorous security standards, thereby enhancing credibility and marketability. This article delves into the intricacies of the Common Criteria certification process, shedding light on its challenges and associated costs.

The Common Criteria certification process demands significant resources. Source: Freepik

Challenges in the Common Criteria Certification Process

The Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation are rigorous, necessitating meticulous attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity principles. This section delves deeper into the main steps of the Common Criteria certification process and its inherent challenges.

Development of Security Requirements

The development of robust security requirements is at the core of the Common Criteria certification process. These conditions are the foundation for the evaluation, ensuring that products meet stringent security standards. 

Crafting these prerequisites demands a profound understanding of the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. Security experts must anticipate potential risks and vulnerabilities and address them proactively within the certification framework. Achieving this level of foresight requires extensive expertise and collaboration among stakeholders.

Thorough Examination of Security Features

The evaluation process entails a comprehensive examination of the product's security features, encompassing various stages such as document evaluation, functional and penetration testing, and review. Each stage demands meticulous attention to detail, with evaluators/assessors scrutinizing every aspect of the product's security posture. 

Testing involves subjecting the product to simulated attack scenarios to evaluate its resilience against potential threats. Analysis entails dissecting the product's architecture and codebase to identify possible vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The assessment involves evaluating certain developer documentation and design specifications to ensure alignment with established security standards. This exhaustive evaluation process ensures that certified products meet stringent security criteria.

Resource Demands

Undoubtedly, the Common Criteria certification process demands significant resources, including time, expertise, and financial investment. Developing and implementing robust security measures requires dedicated resources and expertise. 

Organizations must allocate sufficient time and manpower to successfully navigate the complexities of the Common Criteria certification process. Engaging certified professionals and cybersecurity experts incurs additional costs, adding to the financial burden if the necessary financial resources are not properly calculated or a dedicated team is not set up to deal with the project. 

Awareness and Adoption

Despite the undeniable benefits of Common Criteria certification, including enhanced security posture and market credibility, there remains a lack of awareness regarding its significance. 

This lack of awareness hampers adoption rates, with organizations failing to recognize the value proposition offered by certified products. Bridging this awareness gap requires targeted educational initiatives and outreach efforts to highlight the benefits of certification and dispel misconceptions.

Global Impact and Transition Challenges

While the European Union's Common Criteria Certification Initiative (EUCC) represents a significant step forward in harmonizing cybersecurity standards, its impact extends beyond EU borders. Nations participating in the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) are likely to feel the ripple effects of the EUCC's implementation. 

However, transitioning from national schemes under the Security of Information Systems (SOG-IS) framework to the EUCC scheme may encounter hurdles. Regulatory differences and varying levels of preparedness among member states could impede the seamless adoption of the EUCC framework. As a result, the anticipated benefits of the new scheme may be delayed, requiring concerted efforts to facilitate a smooth transition.

Introduction of Novel Elements

The EUCC introduces novel elements, including non-conformity and non-compliance monitoring, alongside vulnerability management policies. While these additions enhance the robustness of the Common Criteria certification process, they also introduce complexities and challenges. 

Developers must adapt to new requirements and procedures, potentially necessitating additional effort and resources. Non-compliance monitoring mainly imposes a stringent oversight mechanism, requiring organizations to adhere to certification requirements. This heightened scrutiny adds a layer of complexity to the Common Criteria certification process, underscoring the need for thorough preparation and compliance.

Choosing the right EAL can profoundly shape the Common Criteria certification process. Source: Freepik 

Impact of the Chosen Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL)

Choosing the right EAL profoundly shapes the Common Criteria certification process, impacting security measures, evaluation procedures, and user trust.

Influence on Security Measures

EAL choice directly dictates the depth of security measures implemented. Higher EALs demand advanced security controls, ensuring robust resilience against cyber threats. This requires bigger investments in encryption, access controls, and secure development practices.

Impact on Evaluation Processes

EAL selection significantly affects evaluation complexity and duration. Higher EALs mandate more rigorous testing, including vulnerability analysis and source code review, extending evaluation timelines. Organizations pursuing higher EALs must allocate additional resources for thorough evaluation.

User Trust and Perception

Higher EALs enhance user trust by signaling superior security assurances. Products certified at a higher level are perceived as more reliable and trustworthy, offering a competitive advantage in the market. 

Balancing Costs and Benefits

While higher EALs offer enhanced security, they entail increased costs and time commitments. Organizations must weigh these against market demand and business objectives to optimize certification strategy. Balancing security requirements, expenses, and market dynamics ensures strategic alignment and maximizes value.

The costs of CC Certification include product development, evaluation, and certification fees Source: Freepik

Costs Associated with the Common Criteria Certification Process

Undoubtedly, pursuing CC certification entails significant upfront costs. These costs encompass several key areas, including product development, evaluation, and certification fees. Consequently, it is essential to learn more about Common Criteria before embarking on the certification Common Criteria certification process.

  1. Product Development Costs

Product development costs entail implementing requisite security measures to meet the stringent standards set forth by the certification framework.  It is practical to take into account the appropriate cybersecurity requirements during development, following the principle of security by design, knowing what EAL level certification the product is ultimately intended to obtain

  1. Evaluation Costs

Evaluation costs represent another substantial component of the certification process. These costs encompass the expenses associated with assessing the product's security features.

  1. Certification Fees

Certification fees cover the expenses of obtaining official certification from the designated certification body.  ​​These fees always depend on the specific project, its length, and its complexity, which can be influenced by various aspects, including the EAL level.

  1. Higher EALs and Testing Costs

Higher EALs necessitate more extensive testing methodologies, including exhaustive vulnerability assessments and in-depth code reviews. Consequently, organizations opting for higher EALs may incur higher testing costs due to the need for specialized testing tools, resources, and expertise.

  1. Evaluation Costs and Chosen EAL

Evaluation costs encompass the time and resources required for analyzing and reviewing test results. Certified evaluators of accredited testing laboratories meticulously scrutinize every aspect of the product's security posture, ensuring compliance with the established standards. This thorough evaluation process adds to the overall costs of certification.

  1. Balancing Costs and Benefits

Thus, the chosen EAL significantly impacts the overall costs associated with the Common Criteria certification process. 

While higher EALs may entail escalated expenses due to increased testing and evaluation requirements, they also offer the potential for enhanced user trust and credibility. By investing in higher EAL certifications, organizations can demonstrate their unwavering commitment to security excellence, potentially leading to increased market share and revenue.

Accredited testing laboratories play a pivotal role in the Common Criteria Certification process. Source: Freepik

Importance of Choosing the Right Cybersecurity Testing Lab (ITSEF in EUCC)

Independent and accredited cybersecurity laboratories, like CClab, play a pivotal role in the Common Criteria Certification process. They evaluate the security features and capabilities of IT devices and systems. These labs conduct rigorous testing and analysis to ascertain compliance with the Common Criteria's security standards (also known as ISO 15408). Moreover, they offer valuable feedback and recommendations to enhance product security.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help preparing to successfully obtain the certification (ISO 15408) Common Criteria Certification. We offer pre-assessment and consulting services to prepare you for an evaluation project and guide you through it to minimize delays and unnecessary expenditures during the CC certification process, following the latest cybersecurity schemes and standards. Using our industry-leading agile methodology, we provide assessments up to EAL 4+ in the shortest period feasible.

Choosing the appropriate lab is paramount, influencing consumer trust and product marketability. A reputable lab, known for its thorough and impartial evaluations, enhances the certification's credibility. Conversely, certification from a lab with a questionable reputation may undermine consumer trust and hinder market acceptance.


Navigating the challenges and costs of the Common Criteria Certification Process effectively necessitates a comprehensive understanding and informed decision-making at each stage. Choosing the right cybersecurity lab is critical, influencing evaluation quality, consumer trust, and product marketability. CCLab offers evaluation and consultation services to organizations seeking Common Criteria evaluation certifications. Employing agile methodologies in the consultation and pre-evaluation stages enables clients to efficiently address potential challenges, avoid unexpected costs, and optimize the certification procedure.

Despite the associated challenges and costs, the CC Certification offers invaluable assurance of a product's security features and controls. As the EUCC ushers in transformative changes, understanding its implications and adapting accordingly is imperative for organizations in the cybersecurity landscape. 

Inspect our previous article on the Common Criteria certification process for a deeper insight into the CC framework and its complexities.

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