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OpenTimestamps Git Integration

While Git supports PGP signing for tags and commits natively, like other uses of PGP a major caveat exists: How do you verify a signature from a revoked or expired key? Joanna Rutkowska, co-founder of QubesOS, explains the problem on her blog:

My signing keys (e.g. blog or Qubes code signing keys) do not have expiration dates. This is not laziness. There is a fundamental problem with using an expiration date on keys used for code signing (e.g. git tag -s), because it is unclear what the outcome should be when one verifies some old code (written and signed when the key was still valid) in the future when the key has already expired?

Naturally we would like the old code, written and signed when the key was still valid, to continue to verify fine also in the future, after the key expires (and the developer passed away, perhaps). However, it is very problematic to prevent the attacker from creating falsified code pretending to be an old one.

-http://blog.invisiblethings.org/keys/

OpenTimestamps Git integration helps mitigate this problem by providing proof that code-signing signatures existed prior to when a key expired or was revoked.

How It Works

Under the hood a Git commit is simply a few lines of text:

$ git cat-file -p 7b94d37a71a236227c443e0f46e885101401020c
tree 8faa3b9a240f4742d41b12fb62e95f8af25feb5e
author Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1349397737 -0700
committer Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1349397737 -0700

Initial commit

A signed Git commit adds a ASCII-armored PGP signature:

$ git cat-file -p a9d1ffc2e10dafcf17d31593a362b15c0a636bfc
tree 548b1c88f537cd9939edeea094bfaff094f20874
parent 53c68bc976c581636b84c82fe814fab178adf8a6
author Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1432826886 -0400
committer Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1432827857 -0400
gpgsig -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
 
 iQGrBAABCACVBQJVZzfSXhSAAAAAABUAQGJsb2NraGFzaEBiaXRjb2luLm9yZzAw
 MDAwMDAwMDAwMDAwMDAwMjFmZmUwZDk5ZmY5ZTJmNjI4YTc2M2JmN2NkZDUzYjY4
 YzEzYzYxNzg5ZTdhNDMvFIAAAAAAFQARcGthLWFkZHJlc3NAZ251cGcub3JncGV0
 ZUBwZXRlcnRvZC5vcmcACgkQJIFAPaXwkfuCcgf9HXnqAF17nzlv6slq4qdX2agQ
 7rPWUtD8tGt0KVYAPmmijZ3guDRF4ISuUgcer4ixmBBezssKQG3ghqnlhq6OudBW
 T/MpVhkhIG3EDs58muhCsORPqO0CirhDiA5QFcZdCj/R7PDbZEygmI5OpS0HJK1j
 9oeDEDuItV/450tfjd4eSOcnSkqvQBO822U70VdmO4MbHkG5kZ1mHJ6FyxfW737b
 hgayzXP1rEURmobsczBXa8jUyg/c30vxwV9yJkzWNFISvZK4/nXgnyWk5ft8cn5V
 YzMjt5lQuJwX/r6/MdRPRorPIOxdxUQzSN+8s8soZ3gqdIH/fuqCra7s2cntrw==
 =Lfsu
 -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Add working ots command line utility

What the signature actually signs is simply the commit minus the signature itself; in the above example the exact data the signature signs is:

$ git cat-file -p a9d1ffc2e10dafcf17d31593a362b15c0a636bfc
tree 548b1c88f537cd9939edeea094bfaff094f20874
parent 53c68bc976c581636b84c82fe814fab178adf8a6
author Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1432826886 -0400
committer Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1432827857 -0400

Add working ots command line utility

You can verify this yourself manually with a bit of cut-and-pasting. Interestingly, if you ask GnuPG to verify a ASCII-armored signature with additional stuff at the end that it doesn't recognise, the verification still works. This allows us to append our timestamp to the end of the signature, while still maintaining compatibility with non-OpenTimestamps-aware Git clients:

$ git cat-file -p 48034652a83bb2119777bac5d84d24552454ab1f
tree 25ebb56d6818abc82c8ff7ce9ac801b7ef052094
parent d265224445754a997d0bf06662567ed8c0d4dc25
author Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473060568 -0400
committer Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473060568 -0400
gpgsig -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
 
 iQEcBAABCAAGBQJXzR7wAAoJEGOZARBE6K+yMT4H/jEhfBqe3Nr93SHdwVJ14rGg
 WIOtBG4t9KmJjYCBTXgQRTTI/0F+gGulMRr5jeDTgmQpPNKIHKjv62kPPtcxqQQr
 3AfByOjNLja3saAxEwFI++gkNgdeD7eqJex6P0OnVVixklyznVXvtEq1UoESBHRp
 MIGbLpR3jAgxT58ZPrezHu9p2ifT/uT6MrwjYlvJzOfjK2t9sBLXfUUtzWfmxUNA
 +wfQv/X5vePzcZth0AIKWwPAm77HtBGlJXYg9e8GPUBS6t6t2nHkyQIsgXYeFwFy
 9nf4W3yi1hbuvEV2DtqGQZjF/s9GIhLBS5I5p0RGy4zt55inGImlSekPBSuKzmo=
 =7pUu
 -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
 -----BEGIN OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----
 
 AQDwEPyUcFjpQf0P0ntzUeqBn8MI8QRXzR7zAIPf4w0u+QyOLi1odHRwczovL2Fs
 aWNlLmJ0Yy5jYWxlbmRhci5vcGVudGltZXN0YW1wcy5vcmc=
 -----END OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----

Add Git GnuPG wrapper

Allows signed git commits to be timestamped.

Usage

To create and verify these signatures we simply wrap the gpg binary with our own code, ots-git-gpg-wrapper. Git allows you to override the default GnuPG binary (/usr/bin/gpg) with your own using the gpg.program config option. Unfortunately that option doesn't let you set additional command line flags, so we use one more wrapper, ots-git-gpg-wrapper.sh. You can set all this up with the following:

git config --global gpg.program <path to ots-git-gpg-wrapper.sh>

Now try creating a test repository and signing a commit:

$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /tmp/test/.git/
$ echo "Hello World!" > greeting
$ git add greeting
$ git commit -S -m 'initial commit'
ots: Submitting to remote calendar 'https://pool.opentimestamps.org'
[master (root-commit) 6ccf07f] initial commit
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
 create mode 100644 greeting

You can use git cat-file to see the new commit:

$ git cat-file -p HEAD
tree 7b83077600c4fc88b2e519d4bc0a0dea6d3d6396
author Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473132873 -0400
committer Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473132873 -0400
gpgsig -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
 
 iQEbBAABCAAGBQJXzjlLAAoJEGOZARBE6K+yEt8H+JF4cUkfurgKqVEiRFsQXirZ
 iO6v79SjdRVTXoHIikDoEnLaScr1BpHVxBqNakGJoRaPnOJYZEMNm2ICmnDJbSAQ
 llNUc3sUWfrnIcbo6wm5PVAUMDKKJFgHFK0dLnmwbDNlOY/1qvikSkGq1n/fHVDm
 iRQweH+p47StJt/255TsknuSMu+gllGByHcAcLRPFkcwgvHp/P6MZ26yxGmRu3u4
 Kmo7iEMlTSwJZTqjmAWH0uxm2wVaKRcxaJx1sUAkuOvCdXxDTVZdxiRupdBdicLQ
 UsU4ZKoEKte7Hhe10d4c0LmIHGgrPc3jH+DL3zD5r1n6BLHzDuTFbnXTWZnpAg==
 =/mbV
 -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
 -----BEGIN OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----
 
 AQDwEJbLmWPCiB5L5H3tY8DJywAI8QRXzjlO8AiALKz7iooxNwCD3+MNLvkMji4t
 aHR0cHM6Ly9hbGljZS5idGMuY2FsZW5kYXIub3BlbnRpbWVzdGFtcHMub3Jn
 -----END OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----

initial commit

As usual you can verify both the signature and timestamp with git log. It does takes some time for the calendar server to aggregate your timestamp with other timestamps and commit them in the Bitcoin blockchain, so if you do this right away OpenTimestamps will tell you that the timestamp can't be verified:

$ git log --show-signature
commit 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
ots: Calendar b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org': No timestamp found
ots: Pending attestation b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org'
ots: Could not verify timestamp
gpg: Signature made Mon 05 Sep 2016 08:34:35 PM PDT
gpg:                using RSA key 6399011044E8AFB2
gpg: Good signature from "Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>" [ultimate]
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 5220]" [ultimate]
Author: Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>
Date:   Mon Sep 5 23:34:33 2016 -0400

    initial commit

However, if we wait a few hours the timestamp will be completed and can verified:

$ git log --show-signature
commit 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
ots: Got 1 new attestation(s) from b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org'
ots: Success! Bitcoin attests data existed as of Fri Sep  9 23:03:52 2016 UTC
ots: Good timestamp
gpg: Signature made Mon 05 Sep 2016 08:34:35 PM PDT
gpg:                using RSA key 6399011044E8AFB2
gpg: Good signature from "Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>" [ultimate]
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 5220]" [ultimate]
Author: Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>
Date:   Mon Sep 5 23:34:33 2016 -0400

    initial commit

Additionally, since OpenTimestamps maintains a cache of known timestamps, after you successfully retrieve a timestamp once you never need to rely on the remote calendar server again:

$ git log --show-signature
commit 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
ots: Got 1 attestation(s) from cache
ots: Success! Bitcoin attests data existed as of Fri Sep  9 23:03:52 2016 UTC
ots: Good timestamp
gpg: Signature made Mon 05 Sep 2016 08:34:35 PM PDT
gpg:                using RSA key 6399011044E8AFB2
gpg: Good signature from "Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>" [ultimate]
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 5220]" [ultimate]
Author: Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>
Date:   Mon Sep 5 23:34:33 2016 -0400

    initial commit

Signing and Timestamping Tags

Under the hood, tags work much the same way as commits. Let's create one:

$ git tag -s -m 'Hello World!' initial-commit HEAD
ots: Submitting to remote calendar 'https://pool.opentimestamps.org'

Similar to a commit, a signed tag is just a normal tag with a PGP signature; a timestamped tag is a normal signed tag with a timestamp:

$ git cat-file -p initial-commit
object 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
type commit
tag initial-commit
tagger Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473148175 -0400

Hello World!
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----

iQEcBAABCAAGBQJXznUQAAoJEGOZARBE6K+y5OQH/jJ18Eo9owPnMdTrkiS2lSaE
/zToaC6LLqCfgxUPh4kpEKcH/sO9oBE6idayXs8/eb+twUu/52pDAWGcnquJr2bh
oORzsnk6arCuCrYTa/0JcBK5Ff34HyaXH78qT26ts4cQKWJwRaHUbuFeXfBlfHHe
f/0rleGNl9LOzDLWFOY9KHLDX3O7d71MXzMaOGCwjGYaVzyT7DOVfGumvkGvXmEO
Fu/wKhUYTjqqiJHHsfmvpPR+pVGOCZgMA9Cc/9zX5OB6bDcBWHzGGNIouzBStrJ+
4pO+J2JzgNKIV3EBl99o1Qca5IqrCRYiaAHwl4cBlDt+I8KqbYO4x5RKrlCEpPg=
=PY8g
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
-----BEGIN OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----

AQDwEP7aFKxEJU3S/IqqGbdrOccI8QRXznUU8AgjirrYajh9VQCD3+MNLvkMji4t
aHR0cHM6Ly9hbGljZS5idGMuY2FsZW5kYXIub3BlbnRpbWVzdGFtcHMub3Jn
-----END OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----

Just like commits, you can verify them as you would any other tag:

$ git tag -v initial-commit
object 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
type commit
tag initial-commit
tagger Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473148175 -0400

Hello World!
ots: Got 1 new attestation(s) from b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org'
ots: Success! Bitcoin attests data existed as of Tue Sep  6 01:20:11 2016 UTC
ots: Good timestamp
gpg: Signature made Tue 06 Sep 2016 12:49:36 AM PDT
gpg:                using RSA key 6399011044E8AFB2
gpg: Good signature from "Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>"
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 5220]"

However, unlike commits you probably make tags relatively infrequently, and they're used for more important things like software releases. Every timestamp we've created above depended on a remote calendar server. While you're not trusting the calendar server for the accuracy of the timestamp - that's done by the Bitcoin blockchain - you are trusting that server not to lose data: if the calendar server loses the commitment your timestamp used, you won't be able to verify that the timestamp was valid.

As an additional measure of safety, OpenTimestamps can also create standalone timestamps that don't depend on a calendar server at all with the --wait option. With --wait OpenTimestamps still uses a calendar server, but once the initial timestamp has been created it waits until the timestamp has been completed by the Bitcoin blockchain, and saves the completed timestamp. This may take up to a few hours, but in the case of an important software release that may not be a big deal. To use this you (currently) have to manually add --wait to the ots-git-gpg-wrapper.sh script. Then sign the tag as usual:

$ git tag -s -m 'Completed timestamp' full-timestamp HEAD
ots: Submitting to remote calendar 'https://pool.opentimestamps.org'
ots: Calendar b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org': No timestamp found
ots: Timestamp not complete; waiting 30 sec before trying again

<snip>

ots: Calendar b'https://alice.btc.calendar.opentimestamps.org': No timestamp found
ots: Timestamp not complete; waiting 30 sec before trying again
ots: Got 1 new attestation(s) from 'https://pool.opentimestamps.org'

If we inspect the contents of the tag, we see that the timestamp is quite a bit larger. That extra data is the transaction used to create the timestamp, and a merkle path to the block header's merkleroot:

$ git cat-file -p full-timestamp
object 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
type commit
tag full-timestamp
tagger Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473148584 -0400

Completed timestamp
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----

iQEcBAABCAAGBQJXznaoAAoJEGOZARBE6K+yfHUH/1Z+Z80X5dUXu2MkuJA2zwBn
YNehHVDdaiTtUotNYwt5eZF6F/PnV/UFVIz+ui/nECk6450j3guuVsDGwGV7Qk0I
rbBtWstE3bSEe6yb8xMnzbtXeEL0NxNXvJg7IGhyIyXW/D5mEBy86IkfTmC1uSne
qpJA8SJSqiXqjAIGOMcoDBaGTrhO48fVBqtsM8UITW6FkkIzFSwWztvfBwO3BC69
m16hKATkF9zjdnRrWZhU7lWUc2ZIBUiQR+a5zu4cr9APREb57rKDRxME9pN72QSA
f4OOVrEI17KwDJL8k4xtgZbsgML7qwYE4l6c1UgcvOZaT24+Na1gCfuVc1VRJ80=
=dPv/
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
-----BEGIN OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----
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-----END OPENTIMESTAMPS GIT TIMESTAMP-----

Finally, if verify this timestamp, we see that OpenTimestamps verifies the timestamp directly against the Bitcoin blockchain, without contacting any calendar servers:

$ git tag -v full-timestamp
object 6ccf07f8dc003728d5366eb435b883057306f1d1
type commit
tag full-timestamp
tagger Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org> 1473148584 -0400

Completed timestamp
ots: Success! Bitcoin attests data existed as of Tue Sep  6 01:20:11 2016 UTC
ots: Good timestamp
gpg: Signature made Tue 06 Sep 2016 12:56:24 AM PDT
gpg:                using RSA key 6399011044E8AFB2
gpg: Good signature from "Peter Todd <pete@petertodd.org>"
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 5220]"