A public database for software and firmware hashes
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Public Database of Software Hashes

Problem with software authenticity

We all use software. Everywhere. From our servers, to personal computers and our phones (which are becoming extensions of our brains, BTW). From our Mars landers, to cars, to home routers, TVs, and even toasters. From medical MRIs, to pacemakers.

Yet, curiously, the dramatic majority of software and firmware, especially open source software, can not be authenticated in any meaningful way. By authenticating we understand a process of establishing the authorship and integrity of the software.

It's probably quite obvious what does integrity mean? Integrity assurance guarantees that the software has not be tampered nor replaced anywhere between its author and its users.

It might be less obvious that integrity does not imply trustworthiness, understood as security or non-harmfulness. Indeed, there is nothing that could stop an author from producing either incidentally buggy or intentionally harmful software and properly signing it with his or her key.

Moreover, there is nothing that stops others from generating their own keys, adding whatever description strings to the keys (e.g. "Linux Kernel signing key"), and using these keys to sign modified copies of the software. In order to protect against such attacks, the software author needs to somehow ensure that all the interested people could easily find out which key is the original signing key. This is typically achieved by publishing the keys in various places, such as on twitter, keybase.io, etc.

But what if the machine on which the author signs their software gets compromised? Of course the attacker could then sign modified copies of the software. More importantly, the attacker can selectively feed backdoored software to only some of the users, to minimize chances of the attack discovery.

All the above scenarios are of concern when the original author has made an effort and actually attempted to sign their software. Yet, most of the software is offered without any kind of signature for verification.

Proposed solution

Ideally we would like to have a simple oracle that answers a simple question: is this software safe to install and run? Unfortunately, as briefly explained above it is not possible to provide any generic mechanism to answer such questions (even if the author employs some scheme for signing, not to mention if they don't).

What we, as a community, could do, however, is to attempt to build a publicly available database of software hashes. The database is a collection of statements from various witnesses of the following form:

I -- {id} -- have downloaded the software `XYZ`, attempted the best
verification I could make, and observed it hashes into what is written in
the `hash` file. The steps I followed to calculate the hash are given in
`origin.{id}` file. I sign this statement with two detached signatures
placed in `hash.sig.{id}` and `origin.sig.{id}`.

I attach my public keys in `witnesses/keys/{id}.key` and also provide steps
to establish my identity and verify my key in `witnesses/{id}` file.

The hash and origin.{id} files should be placed in the following directories:

/{firmware | os | apps}/{vendor name}/{version}/

Here's an example:

├── 3.2
│   ├── hash
│   ├── hash.sig.joanna
│   ├── origin.joanna
│   └── origin.sig.joanna
└── vendor_keys
    ├── origin.joanna
    ├── qubes-master-key.asc
    └── qubes-release-3-signing-key.asc

The following command should be used to create the hash file:

sha256 <file_to_hash> > hash


├── apps
├── firmware
├── os
│   ├── qubes
│   │   ├── 3.2
│   │   │   ├── hash
│   │   │   ├── hash.sig.joanna
│   │   │   ├── origin.joanna
│   │   │   └── origin.sig.joanna
│   │   └── vendor_keys
│   │       ├── origin.joanna
│   │       ├── qubes-master-key.asc
│   │       ├── qubes-release-1-signing-key.asc
│   │       ├── qubes-release-2-signing-key.asc
│   │       └── qubes-release-3-signing-key.asc
│   └── tails
│       ├── 2.4
│       │   ├── hash
│       │   ├── hash.sig.joanna
│       │   ├── origin.joanna
│       │   ├── origin.sig.joanna
│       │   └── tails-i386-2.4.iso.sig
│       ├── 2.6
│       │   ├── hash
│       │   ├── hash.sig.joanna
│       │   ├── origin.joanna
│       │   ├── origin.sig.joanna
│       │   └── tails-i386-2.6.iso.sig
│       └── vendor_keys
│           ├── origin.joanna
│           └── tails-signing-key-2015.asc
├── README.md
├── TODO
└── witnesses
    ├── joanna
    ├── keys
    │   ├── joanna.key
    │   └── README.md
    └── README.md


How do you obtain the hashes that are in the repo?

The steps are give in the corresponding orign.{id} files, where {id} identifies the witness (key) who checked the hash.

Why a git repo?

A git repository can be trivially cloned, archived, and forked. It can also be easily hosted for free at a number of public services, such as GitHub.

Additionally, it provides tracked history of changes and integrity (through signed tags and/or commits), which can be thought of as an additional security mechanism to the explicit GPG signatures we display.

Do you make any guarantees about the software included here?

No, please see Disclaimers.

Do you assume we must trust GitHub (or any other hosting service)?

No, you should always verify GPG digital signatures to check integrity of any information contained herein.

Are you going to accept submission about hashes from anybody?

No, please see Disclaimers.

Can I fork this?

Yes, please see the License section below.




  1. The list of software contained in this repository should not be considered an endorsement for using of any of the software by any of the witnesses who signed their hashes.

  2. There is no guarantee that any of the code referenced in this repository is not, were not, or will not become insecure, malicious, harmful, or otherwise differing from what its vendors claims about it. The match of the hashes only means that certain group of witnesses were exposed to the same code, byte-by-byte, as you.

  3. You can send a patch/pull request with hashes of non-included software, but please keep in mind this will likely be ignored, unless 1) I consider you a relatively trustworthy person, 2) I'm capable of checking the authenticity of your submission with reasonable assurance (so, I'm quite confident you use a reasonably good setup for your keys), and 3) the software about which you are to attest is considered of some interest to a wider audience.