Codesigning everything and combatting malicious code

Joshua Root jmr at
Tue Mar 22 04:02:05 UTC 2022

On 2022-3-22 12:20 , Ryan Schmidt wrote:
> It is not even our policy that contributors must read the NEWS or CHANGELOG files to see what changed, though I sometimes do this as it helps me discover things like if dependencies need to be changed.

It may not be required by policy, but I would consider reading the 
release notes to be basic due diligence before updating a port. There 
are many kinds of incompatible changes that might otherwise easily be 

> Could MacPorts codesign everything installed by ports? If so, should we? What benefits would that bring? How would we do it?

We could ad-hoc codesign everything, which would not improve security at 
all, but would get GateKeeper to ease up a bit on restrictions on 
incoming network connections and the like.

Doing actual useful codesigning would require a few things:
1. A Developer ID for the project. I'm happy to sign the installers with 
my personal Developer ID because I build them myself and I am familiar 
with the code contained in them. I would not sign arbitrary third party 
2. A Developer ID for every user who needs to install any ports that are 
not available as binaries. We obviously can't distribute our secret key 
to the public, so anything built locally needs to be signed locally, 
with a locally configured identity.
3. A willingness to endorse every binary we ship by putting our 
signature on it.
4. A plan for what to do if we inadvertently ship malware and our 
Developer ID certificate is revoked. AIUI, that would make it impossible 
to run anything signed with the existing certificate if GateKeeper is 
enabled. Everything would presumably have to be re-signed and reinstalled.

As you can see, the challenges are significant, and the benefits of just 
slapping a Developer ID signature on what we already produce are largely 
questionable. Assurance that binaries have not changed after being 
installed would be nice I suppose.

Codesigning is a in the end just a mechanism, and there are policy 
questions that need to be thought through before it can be useful.

- Josh

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