Author Package Signing

Ricardo Minguez (Rido) edited this page Dec 1, 2017 · 14 revisions

Status: Reviewed

Related Information

This specification is one part of a new experience for package signing described at a high level in this blog post: NuGet Package Signing. You can find various related specs on the package signing wiki.


The discussion around this spec is tracked here - Author Package Signing #5889


NuGet packages do not include any mechanism to determine if a given package has been modified from creation to consumption or who is the legitimate author of the package. These issues are becoming more relevant when users configure their solutions with different package sources, where it’s common to use mirrors that copy packages from different sources.

Who is the Customer?

Package Authors who want to provide a stronger authenticity mechanism to their packages.

Package consumers who require more information to help making trusted decisions based on their security constraints.

Key Scenarios

Package authors have the option to sign their packages before submission. will validate signed packages during submission if the package is validated it will include a new visual indicator in the search results.

Consumers will be able to identify signed packages in, including a signer from the certificate. Those packages will be validated while installing and will be blocked if the content has been tampered.

When the signing certificate does not chain to a trusted root on the local machine where the package is being installed, the installation will generate a warning.


As described in the blog post, this feature corresponds to the Stage 1 of the overall roadmap for Package Signing. Signed packages will not be strictly required by, Visual Studio or NuGet.exe. Authors and consumers can decide if they want to start using the feature at their own pace.

NuGet packages can be signed with an embedded signature based on X.509 code signing certificates. This signature will provide a mecahnism to validate pacakge integrity (the content has not been modified) and authenticity (the package author has possession of the certificate at the time of signing).

No visual indicators

Edit 10/9/2017. After additional feedback, we have decided to do not show any visual indicator for signed packages.

In Stage 1 NuGet will not distinguish between signed and unsigned packages; Package Manager UI will remain unchanged. With Stage 3 package source settings, we will introduce new icons to help identify unsigned packages.

Signature validation at install time

NuGet clients like Visual Studio and NuGet.exe will try to validate the signature when available. If the package does not contain a signature it will be installed without any noticeable change from existing workflows.

The package signature will be validated before the package gets expanded to the local file system (the .nupkg files are zip files that need to be extracted somewhere), usually as a result of an install, restore or update operation.

This validation will verify the content has not been modified since signing and the certificate chains to a trusted root in the local machine.

This validation will end with three possible results that will be shown in the output (Error List in Visual Studio and Std Error in NuGet.exe). The CLI for .NETCore apps will not validate package signatures until we are done with Stage 3, and hence no errors/warnings will be shown.

Status Message Description
OK Signature Validated Good package signature
Warning Certificate Non Trusted The certificate using to sign this package is not trusted.
Error Content Tampered The content of this package has been modified. Installation is cancelled

Signing Packages

NuGet package authors who want to sign a package must obtain a X.509 code signing certificate. It’s strongly recommended to obtain the certificate from a public certification authority. The author can also use a certificate from a private certification authority but these signatures will generate a warning if the certificate is not trusted in the machine where the validation will occur.

Note: Detailed certificate requirements are outside the scope of this document. The detailed requirements are available in the spec Package Signatures Technical Details

During the signing time, the certificate will be validated to make sure it's a valid code signing certificate that has not been revoked.

The output of this operation will be an updated version of the nupkg file with an embedded signature.

Packages can contain 0 or 1 signatures, if the author tries to sign an already signed package, the previous signature will be removed before signing it again.

Submitting a signed package

Note: If the package source is a folder, there are no extra steps, and copying the signed nupkg to the destination folder will be enough.

When submitting to a NuGet server, the signature will be validated against the server policies. In the case of this policy will require:

  • The content has not been modified since signing
  • The certificate chains to a trusted root by
    • will use the trusted CAs published by Windows
  • All certificates in the chain were not known to be revoked at the time of the signing
    • If the revocation respondants are not available the validation will fail.

We will announce when will start validating signatures during the submission process in our Announcements repo.

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