XML signing

XML signing

August 2, 2013

Sometimes people want to exchange information in a way which guarantees that the data being send is actually the data being received. One of the option for such communication is through signed XMLs. There are a few tutorials how to sign a XML, however none of them was particularly thorough.

But first things first :) In order to sign anything and someone else to be able to verify the signature, you should first have a digital signature or some kind of certificate. If you want to use this only for yourself, then on some linux machine you can generate one like that:

openssl req -new -x509 -days 3650 -nodes -out apache.pem -keyout apache.pem

openssl pkcs12 -export -in apache.pem -out mycert.pfx

Lets assume that you have used this technique. Now here is what I wrote and actually worked:

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.List;

import javax.xml.crypto.XMLStructure;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.CanonicalizationMethod;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.DigestMethod;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.Reference;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.SignatureMethod;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.SignedInfo;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.Transform;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.XMLSignature;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.XMLSignatureFactory;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.XMLValidateContext;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.dom.DOMSignContext;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.dom.DOMValidateContext;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.keyinfo.KeyInfo;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.keyinfo.KeyInfoFactory;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.keyinfo.KeyValue;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.keyinfo.X509Data;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.spec.C14NMethodParameterSpec;
import javax.xml.crypto.dsig.spec.TransformParameterSpec;
import javax.xml.parsers.DocumentBuilder;
import javax.xml.parsers.DocumentBuilderFactory;
import javax.xml.parsers.ParserConfigurationException;
import javax.xml.transform.Transformer;
import javax.xml.transform.TransformerFactory;
import javax.xml.transform.dom.DOMSource;

import org.w3c.dom.DOMException;
import org.w3c.dom.Document;
import org.xml.sax.InputSource;
import org.xml.sax.SAXException;


public class SigningServiceImpl extends SigningService {
private final char[] password;
private final String file;

public SigningServiceImpl(String file, String password) {
this.file = file;
this.password = password.toCharArray();

* Makes a document that contains the xml that is given in <strong>in</strong> argument.
* @param in The xml that will be used for making the resulting Document.
* @return A Document that represents the given xml.
    private static Document parseXmlFile(String in) {
        try {
            DocumentBuilderFactory dbf = DocumentBuilderFactory.newInstance();
            DocumentBuilder db = dbf.newDocumentBuilder();
            InputSource is = new InputSource(new StringReader(in));
            return db.parse(is);
        } catch (ParserConfigurationException e) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);
        } catch (SAXException e) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);
        } catch (IOException e) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);

* @param keystore KeyStore from where the keys should be taken
* @param alias Alias of the key that is to be taken from the KeyStore.
* @param password Password for taking the key.
* @return KeyPair representing the public and private key corresponding to the alias in the keystore.
    private static KeyPair getPrivateKey(KeyStore keystore, String alias, char[] password) {
        try {
            // Get private key
            Key key = keystore.getKey(alias, password);
            if (key instanceof PrivateKey) {
                // Get certificate of public key
                Certificate cert = keystore.getCertificate(alias);

                // Get public key
                PublicKey publicKey = cert.getPublicKey();

                // Return a key pair
                return new KeyPair(publicKey, (PrivateKey)key);
        } catch (UnrecoverableKeyException e) {
        } catch (NoSuchAlgorithmException e) {
        } catch (KeyStoreException e) {
        return null;

    private XMLSignature getXMLSignature(Document doc) {
     try {
            // Create a DOM XMLSignatureFactory that will be used to generate the
     // enveloped signature
     XMLSignatureFactory fac = XMLSignatureFactory.getInstance("DOM");

     // Create a Reference to the enveloped document (in this case we are
     // signing the whole document, so a URI of "" signifies that) and
     // also specify the SHA1 digest algorithm and the ENVELOPED Transform.
     Reference ref = fac.newReference
     ("", fac.newDigestMethod(DigestMethod.SHA1, null),
     (Transform.ENVELOPED, (TransformParameterSpec) null)),
     null, null);

     // Create the SignedInfo
     SignedInfo si = fac.newSignedInfo
     (C14NMethodParameterSpec) null),
     fac.newSignatureMethod(SignatureMethod.RSA_SHA1, null),

KeyStore ks = null;
ks = KeyStore.getInstance("PKCS12");
ks.load(new FileInputStream(file), password);

KeyPair kp = getPrivateKey(ks, ks.aliases().nextElement(), password);

KeyStore.PrivateKeyEntry ke = (KeyStore.PrivateKeyEntry) ks.getEntry(ks.aliases().nextElement(),
new KeyStore.PasswordProtection(password));

X509Certificate cert = (X509Certificate) ke.getCertificate();
List<X509Certificate> x509Content = new ArrayList<X509Certificate>();

     // Create a KeyValue containing the DSA PublicKey that was generated
     KeyInfoFactory kif = fac.getKeyInfoFactory();
     X509Data xd = kif.newX509Data(x509Content);

KeyValue kv = null;
try {
kv = kif.newKeyValue(kp.getPublic());
} catch (KeyException e1) {

ArrayList<XMLStructure> keyInfoContent = new ArrayList<XMLStructure>();

     // Create a KeyInfo and add the KeyValue to it
     KeyInfo ki = kif.newKeyInfo(Collections.unmodifiableList(keyInfoContent));

     // Create the XMLSignature (but don't sign it yet)
     return fac.newXMLSignature(si, ki);
     catch (Exception e) {
     System.out.println("Error while signing\n" + e.getStackTrace());
     return null;

    private KeyPair getKeyPair() throws KeyStoreException, NoSuchAlgorithmException, CertificateException,
     FileNotFoundException, IOException {
     KeyStore ks = null;
ks = KeyStore.getInstance("PKCS12");
ks.load(new FileInputStream(file), password);

return getPrivateKey(ks, ks.aliases().nextElement(), password);

* Signs a document (somewhat unusable for now)
* @param doc Document to be signed
private void doSign(Document doc) {
     try {
     XMLSignature signature = getXMLSignature(doc);

     // Create a DOMSignContext and specify the RSA PrivateKey and
     // location of the resulting XMLSignature's parent element
     DOMSignContext dsc = new DOMSignContext(getKeyPair().getPrivate(), doc.getDocumentElement());

     // Marshal, generate (and sign) the enveloped signature

     // output the resulting document
     StringWriter outputStream = new StringWriter();

     TransformerFactory tf = TransformerFactory.newInstance();
    Transformer trans = tf.newTransformer();
trans.transform(new DOMSource(doc), new StreamResult(outputStream));
} catch (DOMException e) {
} catch (Exception ex) {

* Makes a xml beautiful.
* @param unformattedXml An xml that is ugly.
* @return A well-formatted xml.
public String sign(String unformattedXml) {
        try {
            final Document document = parseXmlFile(unformattedXml);
            OutputFormat format = new OutputFormat(document);
// format.setLineWidth(65);
// format.setIndenting(true);
// format.setIndent(2);
            Writer out = new StringWriter();
            XMLSerializer serializer = new XMLSerializer(out, format);

            return out.toString();
        } catch (IOException e) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);

public boolean validate(String xml) {
Document doc = parseXmlFile(xml);

try {
Key key = getKeyPair().getPublic();
XMLValidateContext validateContext = new DOMValidateContext(key, doc.getChildNodes().item(0).getLastChild());
XMLSignatureFactory signatureFactory = XMLSignatureFactory.getInstance("DOM");

XMLSignature signature = signatureFactory.unmarshalXMLSignature(validateContext);
return signature.validate(validateContext);
} catch (Exception e) {
return false;

That’s pretty much it. If you want to use some different kind of signature, you might have to play a little until you manage to convince this to work (change hashing algorithm, etc).

P.S: Credit to ivajloip, GitHub

Nedyalko Nedyalkov

Hard working individual with clear vision about the future. Interested in business development, sales, software and much more. Part of different associations and non-governmental organisations.

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