What we sign
All official releases of code distributed by the Apache Software Foundation are signed by the release manager for the release. PGP signatures and MD5 and/or SHA1 hashes are available along with the distribution.
You should download the PGP signatures and MD5/SHA1 hashes directly from the Apache Software Foundation rather than our mirrors. This is to help ensure the integrity of the signature files. However, you are encouraged to download the releases from our mirrors. (Our download page points you at the mirrors for the release and the official site for the signatures, so this happens automatically for you.)
File hashes are intended to be used to check that a file has been downloaded correctly. They do not provide any guarantees as to the authenticity of the file.
The following example details how signature interaction works. The example is for the Apache HTTP Server project, but applies equally to other ASF projects.
In this example, you are already assumed to have downloaded
httpd-2.0.44.tar.gz (the release) and
First, we will check the detached signature (
against our release (
% gpg httpd-2.0.44.tar.gz.asc gpg: Signature made Sat Jan 18 07:21:28 2003 PST using DSA key ID DE885DD3 gpg: Can't check signature: public key not found
This means that we don't have the release manager's public key (
in our local system. You now need to retrieve the public key from a key
server. One popular server is
pgpkeys.mit.edu (which has a web
interface ). The public key servers are linked
together, so you should be able to connect to any key server.
% gpg --keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu --recv-key DE885DD3 gpg: requesting key DE885DD3 from HKP keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu gpg: trustdb created gpg: key DE885DD3: public key "Sander Striker <firstname.lastname@example.org>" imported gpg: Total number processed: 1 gpg: imported: 1
In this example, you have now received a public key for an entity known as 'Sander Striker <email@example.com>' However, you have no way of verifying this key was created by the person known as Sander Striker. But, let's try to verify the release signature again.
% gpg httpd-2.0.44.tar.gz.asc gpg: Signature made Sat Jan 18 07:21:28 2003 PST using DSA key ID DE885DD3 gpg: Good signature from "Sander Striker <firstname.lastname@example.org>" gpg: aka "Sander Striker <email@example.com>" gpg: checking the trustdb gpg: no ultimately trusted keys found gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature! gpg: There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner. Fingerprint: 4C1E ADAD B4EF 5007 579C 919C 6635 B6C0 DE88 5DD3
At this point, the signature is good, but we don't trust this key. A good
signature means that the file has not been tampered with. However, due to
the nature of public key cryptography, you need to additionally verify that
DE885DD3 was created by the real Sander Striker.
Any attacker can create a public key and upload it to the public key servers. They can then create a malicious release signed by this fake key. Then, if you tried to verify the signature of this corrupt release, it would succeed because the key was not the 'real' key. Therefore, you need to validate the authenticity of this key.
Validating Authenticity of a Key
You may download public keys for the Apache project developers from our website or retrieve them from the public PGP keyservers (see above). However, importing these keys is not enough to verify the integrity of the signatures. If a release verifies as good, you need to validate that the key was created by an official representative of the Apache HTTP Server Project.
The crucial step to validation is to confirm the key fingerprint of the public key.
% gpg --fingerprint DE885DD3 pub 1024D/DE885DD3 2002-04-10 Sander Striker <firstname.lastname@example.org> Key fingerprint = 4C1E ADAD B4EF 5007 579C 919C 6635 B6C0 DE88 5DD3 uid Sander Striker <email@example.com> sub 2048g/532D14CA 2002-04-10
A good start to validating a key is by face-to-face communication with multiple government-issued photo identification confirmations. However, each person is free to have their own standards for determining the authenticity of a key. Some people are satisfied by reading the key signature over a telephone (voice verification). For more information on determining what level of trust works best for you, please read the GNU Privacy Handbook section on Validating other keys on your public keyring.
Most of the Apache HTTP Server developers have attempted to sign each others' keys (usually with face-to-face validation). Therefore, in order to enter the web of trust, you should only need to validate one person in our web of trust. (Hint: all of our developers' keys are in the KEYS file.)
For example, the following people have signed the public key for Sander
Striker. If you verify any key on this list, you will have a trust path to
DE885DD3 key. If you verify a key that verifies one of the signatories
DE885DD3, then you will have a trust path. (So on, and so on.)
pub 1024D/DE885DD3 2002-04-10 Sander Striker <firstname.lastname@example.org> sig E2226795 2002-05-01 Justin R. Erenkrantz sig 3 DE885DD3 2002-04-10 Sander Striker sig CD4DF205 2002-05-28 Wolfram Schlich sig E005C9CB 2002-11-17 Greg Stein sig CC8B0F7E 2002-11-18 Aaron Bannert sig DFEAC4B9 2002-11-19 David N. Welton sig 2 82AB7BD1 2002-11-17 Cliff Woolley sig 2 13046155 2002-11-28 Thom May sig 3 19311B00 2002-11-17 Chuck Murcko sig 3 F894BE12 2002-11-17 Brian William Fitzpatrick sig 3 5C1C3AD7 2002-11-18 David Reid sig 3 E04F9A89 2002-11-18 Roy T. Fielding sig 3 CC78C893 2002-11-19 Rich Bowen sig 3 08C975E5 2002-11-21 Jim Jagielski sig 3 F88341D9 2002-11-18 Lars Eilebrecht sig 3 187BD68D 2002-11-21 Ben Hyde sig 3 49A563D9 2002-11-23 Mark Cox ...more signatures redacted...
Since the developers are usually quite busy, you may not immediately find success in someone who is willing to meet face-to-face (they may not even respond to your emails because they are so busy!). If you do not have a developer nearby or have trouble locating a suitable person, please send an email to the address of the key you are attempting to verify. They may be able to find someone who will be willing to validate their key or arrange alternate mechanisms for validation.
Once you have entered the web of trust, you should see the following upon verifying the signature of a release.
% gpg httpd-2.0.44.tar.gz.asc gpg: Signature made Sat Jan 18 07:21:28 2003 PST using DSA key ID DE885DD3 gpg: Good signature from "Sander Striker <email@example.com>" gpg: aka "Sander Striker <firstname.lastname@example.org>"