Exact Steps - Use OpenSSL to Sign a File
Sometimes you might want to deploy a file, like a tarball, with an embedded public/private key signature so that a recipient can validate that the file came from the source they think it came from. This technique is often used for deploying software updates.
Generally, a public/private key signature is distributed separate from the file of interest. For example, most Linux distributions will provide a signature digest file or hash checksum value for people who download the distribution installer to check the installer against. This works fine but it requires 2 files, it could be more convenient to have both the file itself and the signature concatenated together in such a way that it’s easy to work with.
A way that I’ve found to accomplish this using OpenSSL (so as to avoid using GnuPG) follows these exact steps:
First, create an 2048 bit RSA private key using openssl (KEEP THIS PRIVATE KEY SECRET!):
openssl genrsa -out private.pem 2048
Then, create the associated public key for this private key:
openssl rsa -in private.pem -out public.pem -outform PEM -pubout
Now you have
public.pem to all
entities which need to validate that a file was signed by
private.pem in a secure location (and don’t lose it!).
Finally, to create a signature of a file and then append that signature to the file:
openssl dgst -sha256 -sign private.pem -out digest tarball.tar.gz cat tarball.tar.gz digest >> tarball.tar.gz.signed
Now you can distribute one file which has an embedded public/private key signature! :)
If you receive a concatenated input file plus digest, you will need to first extract the digest portion to a file on its own and then remove the digest from the original file. This can be done using dd:
SIZE=$(stat -c%s tarball.tar.gz.signed) dd if=tarball.tar.gz.signed of=digest bs=1 skip=$((SIZE-256)) dd if=/dev/null of=tarball.tar.gz.signed bs=1 seek=$((SIZE-256)) mv tarball.tar.gz.signed tarball.tar.gz
And to validate a given digest file against the file it supposedly signs using the public key, use openssl again:
openssl dgst -sha256 -verify public.pem -signature digest tarball.tar.gz