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Signed InSpec Profiles

This page documents the inspec sign command introduced in InSpec 5 and details some methods to work with signed profiles.


What is a Signed Profile?

A signed profile, or .iaf file, is an InSpec profile with a digital signature that attests to its authenticity. Progress Chef authored profiles are available as signed profiles starting from 2022.

How does Profile Signing Work?

Profile signing uses a matched pair of keys. The signing key is secret and is used to sign the profile. The validation key is widely distributed and verifies the signed profile signature.

Keypairs are first searched for in the current directory and then in the user’s ~/.inspec/keys directory. Progress Chef validation keys are also distributed in the etc/keys directory of the InSpec installation tree. Finally, if a validation key is not found, the profile verification system attempts to download keys from the InSpec Github repository.

How do I execute a signed profile?

You can execute a signed profile like any other profile.

[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec exec simple.iaf

Profile:   InSpec Profile (simple)
Version:   0.1.0
Target:    local://
Target ID: 46f308fc-7ad8-4230-8dd0-f2582227e164

  ✔  tmp-1.0: Create /tmp directory
     ✔  File /tmp is expected to be directory

  File /tmp
     ✔  is expected to be directory

Profile Summary: 1 successful control, 0 control failures, 0 controls skipped
Test Summary: 2 successful, 0 failures, 0 skipped

A signed profile is checked for validity before being executed, and if it cannot be verified, then InSpec exits with code 5 (bad signature).

How do I know which key is used to sign a profile?

The inspec sign verify command displays which key is used to sign a profile.

[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec sign verify simple-0.1.0-v2.iaf
Verifying simple-0.1.0-v2.iaf
Detected format version 'INSPEC-PROFILE-2'
Attempting to verify using key 'cwolfe-03'
Profile is valid.

How do I look inside a signed profile?

Use the inspec export command to examine a signed profile’s contents. You must be able to verify the profile in order to export the contents. By default, the export command dumps a profile summary in a human-readable YAML format, including most of the metadata and the control IDs, control source code, inputs, and other profile information.

  • To view a signed profile, run:
[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec export simple-0.1.0.iaf
:name: simple
:title: InSpec Profile
:maintainer: The Authors
:copyright: The Authors
:license: Apache-2.0
:summary: An InSpec Compliance Profile
:version: 0.1.0
- :platform: os
- :title:
  :descriptions: {}
  :impact: 0.5
  :refs: []
  :tags: {}
  :code: ''
    :ref: "/Users/cwolfe/sandbox/inspec/inspec-5/lib/inspec/control_eval_context.rb"
    :line: 92
  :id: "(generated from example.rb:6 7007cd4757c4892cc89977e9847c1051)"
- :title: Create /tmp directory
  :desc: An optional description...
    :default: An optional description...
  :impact: 0.7
  :refs: []
  :tags: {}
  :code: |
    control "tmp-1.0" do                        # A unique ID for this control
      impact 0.7                                # The criticality, if this control fails.
      title "Create /tmp directory"             # A human-readable title
      desc "An optional description..."
      describe file("/tmp") do                  # The actual test
        it { should be_directory }
    :ref: controls/example.rb
    :line: 11
  :id: tmp-1.0
- :title: sample section
  - "(generated from example.rb:6 7007cd4757c4892cc89977e9847c1051)"
  - tmp-1.0
  :id: controls/example.rb
:inputs: []
:sha256: c1a5298d56f028386edf4c52573264ca38d476ce6156a053a2c412991fb0b646
:status_message: ''
:status: loaded
  :name: inspec
  :version: 5.14.5
  • To view a profile’s README, run:
[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec export --what readme simple-0.1.0.iaf
# Example InSpec Profile

This example shows the implementation of an InSpec profile.
  • To view a signed profile’s metadata file (inspec.yml), run:
[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec export --what metadata simple-0.1.0.iaf
name: simple
title: InSpec Profile
maintainer: The Authors
copyright: The Authors
license: Apache-2.0
summary: An InSpec Compliance Profile
version: 0.1.0
  platform: os

Advanced Usage

How do I create keys?

Most users of signed profiles need not create keys of their own unless they wish to sign and distribute profiles themselves. To generate keys of your own, use the inspec sign generate-keys command:

[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec sign generate-keys --keyname test-03
Generating keys
Generating signing key in /Users/cwolfe/.inspec/keys/test-03.pem.key
Generating validation key in /Users/cwolfe/.inspec/keys/
[cwolfe@lodi temp]$

Keep your signing key secret. You must devise a way of distributing the validation key to your profile users; they will be unable to use your signed IAF files unless they have the validation key.

How do I sign profiles?

You will need a signing key to sign profiles. Specify the path of profile and the name of the key.

[cwolfe@lodi temp]$ inspec sign profile simple --keyname test-03
Signing simple with key cwolfe-03
Dependencies for profile simple successfully vendored to /Users/cwolfe/sandbox/inspec/inspec-5/temp/simple/vendor
Successfully generated simple-0.1.0.iaf
[cwolfe@lodi temp]$
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