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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: Signing DLLs EXEs and Copyright Notices (was RE: Symantec WS.Reputation.1 Errors: What we can do)
Date Sun, 04 Mar 2012 20:38:58 GMT
On Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton
<> wrote:
> Rob, I want to make sure that signature verification and AV scanning activities are not
being confused together.

I'm not confused.

> My AV scanned the OOo-Dev Windows x86 en-US .exe of the r1293550 developer preview checked
the .exe and its interior components (all 51916 of them, if the count is to be believed) for
the things that AVs check for.  It did not remark on digital signatures at all and it found
nothing objectionable.

That is your anti-virus.  But not all anti-virus scanners work the
same way.  Some of them have moved beyond looking for signatures in
files and looking for suspicious runtime activities (both techniques
around for over a decade) to using "wisdom of crowds" techniques to
estimate the reputation of an executable, based on how prevalent it
among other users of that vendor's anti virus software.  They look at
other factors as well, including presence or absence of a digital

> An attempt to execute the preview binary provokes a Windows warning about the absence
of a signature on the .exe (and, if it were distributed as a bare MSI, it would check that
for a signature).

Right.  And my guess is the MS scanner will complain no matter how
popular the program is or how long it has been around.  It is doing a
much simpler test:  signature, yes or no.

> The comment about signing parts reminds me of something though.  It is also possible
and desirable to digitally sign DLLs and the *installed* (not installer) EXE files.  It is
not a requirement for installing OOo-dev 3.4: there is no objection from the Microsoft installer
and none of the EXEs and DLLs are signed.  This is not unlike signing each of the jar files
in a combined, installable application.

Better to put the signature on the outside. Otherwise you could take
old, unsafe signed DLL's from an earlier build and replace them into a
new build.  Remember, the signature does not mean safety.  It just
means known authorship.  But it is possible to make an unsafe program
by mixing and matching known signed components.

In any case, my original observation still holds, that adding a
signature on our top-level installer will help with these AV warnings,
by boosting the "reputation" of our releases.


>  - Dennis
> PS: The OOo-dev 3.4 r1293550 installed DLLs and EXEs all carry an incorrect Copyright
notice though.  The .exe files have "Copyright © 2009-2010 by Apache Softw..." (too long
for the Properties dialog) and Language German (Germany).  The DLLs have "Copyright © 2010
by Apache Software F..." and Language German (Germany).  This is a next-level of detail down
from my QA of the deployment experience, <>.
 I will concentrate on updating and expanding that material so someone can cherry-pick whatever
seems worth fixing.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rob Weir []
> Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 13:40
> To:;
> Subject: Re: Symantec WS.Reputation.1 Errors: What we can do
> On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 4:15 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton
> <> wrote:
>> Out of curiosity I just did another download of the OOo-dev 3.4 Windows "MSI" r1293550
to see if the popularity contest had been won yet.
>> Not yet.
>>  The Internet Explorer 9 download warning is "OOo-Dev-OOO340m1_Win_x86_install_en-US.exe
is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer."  The file is already downloaded
at that point, however.  The options are Delete, Actions, and View downloads (opening a separate
tool that shows downloads and status).  The Actions option includes "Don't run this program
(recommended)", "Delete", and "Run Anyway."
>>  A "Run Anyway" or a later execution of the downloaded .exe will provoke an User
Account Control message (on default configurations, even for administrator accounts) that
warns that the file is from an unknown source (that is, the .EXE is not signed) and that it
was downloaded from the Internet.
>> I also did a custom scan of the single download file using Microsoft Security Essentials.
 The scan (which is programmed to dig into these files) identified 51916 individual items
and no threats.
>> All of this is tolerable and arguably appropriate for developer snapshots.  Users
who use these builds need to rely on their own judgment about the trustworthiness of the origin
and the content of those files.
>> Note that it is the .exe that needs to be signed.  This should not be confused with
a .msi file, although I assume those can be signed also.  Apache OpenOffice does not use
.msi as the packaged binary that is downloaded.  (It appears that LibreOffice has changed
that.)  It strikes me that using external digest values (md5 and sh1 digests) on the download
requires a super-user skill set and should not be the only thing relied upon for project binary
> Yes,MSI's can be installed and are required to be signed for some
> distribution paths.  Generally you want to sign what you distribute.
> Don't expect the I.E. or your anti-virus is going to deflate a 200 MB
> archive to see if some EXE inside is signed.  (And then what about the
> DLL's?)  We should be signing the whole enchilada.
> -Rob
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Dennis E. Hamilton []
>> Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 11:19
>> To:
>> Subject: RE: Symantec WS.Reputation.1 Errors: What we can do
>> The web-based downloader in Internet Explorer 9 also warns about the .exe files (not
the tar.gz or Zip ones).  The message is clearly a no-reputation-yet warning.
>> This is an on-line check.  When the file is known to be regularly downloaded, the
report will change automatically.
>> I have seen no AV warnings about the downloaded files themselves, although there
is a standard OS warning on use of such files when they were downloaded from the internet
and/or are not signed.  (In Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it is necessary to click "details"
to see that there is a "Run anyhow" selection.)
>> I saw no AV warnings after the installation on any systems having Microsoft Malware
detection and regularly-updated Windows Security Essentials.
>>  - Dennis
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Rob Weir []
>> Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 07:00
>> To:
>> Subject: Symantec WS.Reputation.1 Errors: What we can do
>> Several testers have mentioned this anti-virus error when installing
>> the AOO 3.4 dev snapshot build.   This is not a virus.
>> "WS.Reputation" errors come from Symantec Antivirus based on their
>> "reputation-based" threat assessments.  Essentially, they evaluate
>> software that you are about to install according to a range of
>> factors, including how new the file is, how many other people have
>> installed it, whether the installer is digitally signed, etc.  It is
>> not just one factor, but a proprietary mix of weighted factors.
>> We're probably getting penalized based on several of these factors.
>> Note that with the final AOO 3.4 release we'll be in the same
>> position, since that installer will also be new,etc.
>> A few things we should consider doing:
>> 1) Make sure the readme file and install instructions cover this case
>> and explain what the user should do, e.g. "Run anyways"
>> 2) We can make a request to Symantec to "whitelist" our installer.
>> This takes a couple of weeks for them to process.  And we can';t start
>> this work in advance since they need the SHA-256 hash of our
>> installer:
>> 3) We could digitally sign our Windows installers.   Apache already
>> requires a detached signature.  But Symantec has no idea about these.
>> We need traditional Windows exe code signing.  This will help us with
>> Windows 8 as well.  So it is something we probably want to look into
>> at some point.
>> My recommendation:
>> Plan on doing 1.  Do 2. as soon as we have a release.  Look into 3. for AOO 4.0.
>> Regards,
>> -Rob

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