DSIG — Digital Signature Table

The DSIG table contains the digital signature of the OpenType™ font. Signature formats are widely documented and rely on a key pair architecture. Software developers, or publishers posting material on the Internet, create signatures using a private key. Operating systems or applications authenticate the signature using a public key.

The W3C and major software and operating system developers have specified security standards that describe signature formats, specify secure collections of web objects, and recommend authentication architecture. OpenType fonts with signatures will support these standards.

OpenType fonts offer many security features:

  • Operating systems and browsing applications can identify the source and integrity of font files before using them,
  • Font developers can specify embedding restrictions in OpenType fonts, and these restrictions cannot be altered in a font signed by the developer.

The enforcement of signatures is an administrative policy that may be supported by the host environment in which fonts are used. Systems may restrict use of unsigned fonts, or may allow policy to be controlled by a system administrator.

Anyone can obtain identity certificates and encryption keys from a certifying agency, such as Verisign or GTE’s Cybertrust, free or at a very low cost.

The DSIG table is organized as follows. The first portion of the table is the header:

DSIG header

Type Name Description
uint32 version Version number of the DSIG table (0x00000001)
uint16 numSignatures Number of signatures in the table
uint16 flags permission flags Bit 0: cannot be resigned Bits 1-7: Reserved (Set to 0)
SignatureRecord signatureRecords[numSignatures] Array of signature records

The version of the DSIG table is expressed as a uint32, beginning at 0. The version of the DSIG table currently used is version 1 (0x00000001).

Permission bit 0 allows a party signing the font to prevent any other parties from also signing the font (counter-signatures). If this bit is set to zero (0) the font may have a signature applied over the existing digital signature(s). A party who wants to ensure that their signature is the last signature can set this bit.

The DSIG header has an array of signature records, which specifying the format and offset of signature blocks.


Type Name Description
uint32 format Format of the signature
uint32 length Length of signature in bytes
Offset32 offset Offset to the signature block from the beginning of the table

Signatures are contained in one or more signature blocks. Signature blocks may have various formats; currently one format is defined. The format identifier specifies both the format of the signature block, as well as the hashing algorithm used to create and authenticate the signature.

Signature Block Format 1

Type Name Description
uint16 reserved1 Reserved for future use; set to zero.
uint16 reserved2 Reserved for future use; set to zero.
uint32 signatureLength Length (in bytes) of the PKCS#7 packet in the signature field.
uint8 signature[signatureLength] PKCS#7 packet

For more information about PKCS#7 signatures, see ftp://ftp.rsa.com/pub/pkcs/ascii/pkcs-7.asc

For more information about counter-signatures, see ftp://ftp.rsa.com/pub/pkcs/ascii/pkcs-9.asc

Format 1: For whole fonts, with either TrueType outlines and/or CFF data

PKCS#7 or PKCS#9. The signed content digest is created as follows:

  1. If there is an existing DSIG table in the font,
    1. Remove DSIG table from font.
    2. Remove DSIG table entry from sfnt Table Directory.
    3. Adjust table offsets as necessary.
    4. Zero out the file checksum in the 'head' table.
    5. Add the usFlag (reserved, set at 1 for now) to the stream of bytes
  2. Hash the full stream of bytes using a secure one-way hash (such as MD5) to create the content digest.
  3. Create the PKCS#7 signature block using the content digest.
  4. Create a new DSIG table containing the signature block.
  5. Add the DSIG table to the font, adjusting table offsets as necessary.
  6. Add a DSIG table entry to the sfnt Table Directory.
  7. Recalculate the checksum in the 'head' table.

Prior to signing a font file, ensure that all the following attributes are true.

  • The magic number in the 'head' table is correct.
  • Given the number of tables value in the offset table, the other values in the offset table are consistent.
  • The tags of the tables are ordered alphabetically and there are no duplicate tags.
  • The offset of each table is a multiple of 4. (That is, tables are long word aligned.)
  • The first actual table in the file comes immediately after the directory of tables.
  • If the tables are sorted by offset, then for all tables i (where index 0 means the the table with the smallest offset), Offset[i] + Length[i] <= Offset[i+1] and Offset[i] + Length[i] >= Offset[i+1] - 3. In other words, the tables do not overlap, and there are at most 3 bytes of padding between tables.
  • The pad bytes between tables are all zeros.
  • The offset of the last table in the file plus its length is not greater than the size of the file.
  • The checksums of all tables are correct.
  • The 'head' table’s checkSumAdjustment field is correct.

Signatures for TrueType Collections

The DSIG table for a TrueType Collection (TTC) must be the last table in the TTC file. The offset and checksum to the table is put in the TTCHeader (version 2). Signatures of TTC files are expected to be Format 1 signatures.

The signature of a TTC file applies to the entire file, not to the individual fonts contained within the TTC. Signing the TTC file ensures that other contents are not added to the TTC.

Individual fonts included in a TrueType collection should not be individually signed as the process of making the TTC could invalidate the signature on the font.