Chain of Trust


Taskcluster is versatile and self-serve, and enables developers to make automation changes without being blocked on other teams. In the case of developer testing and debugging, this is very powerful and enabling. In the case of release automation, the ability to schedule arbitrary tasks with arbitrary configs can present a security concern.

The chain of trust is a second factor that isn’t automatically compromised if scopes are compromised. This chain allows us to trace a task’s request back to the tree.

High level view

Scopes are how Taskcluster controls access to certain features. These are granted to roles, which are granted to users or LDAP groups.

Scopes and their associated Taskcluster credentials are not leak-proof. Also, by their nature, more people will have restricted scopes than you want, given any security-sensitive scope. Without the chain of trust, someone with release-signing scopes would be able to schedule any arbitrary task to sign any arbitrary binary with the release keys, for example.

The chain of trust is a second factor. The embedded GPG keys on the workers are either the something you have or the something you are, depending on how you view the taskcluster workers.

Each chain-of-trust-enabled taskcluster worker generates and signs chain of trust artifacts, which can be used to verify each task and its artifacts, and trace a given request back to the tree.

The scriptworker nodes are the verification points. Scriptworkers run the release sensitive tasks, like signing and publishing releases. They verify their task definitions, as well as all upstream tasks that generate inputs into their task. Any broken link in the chain results in a task exception.

In conjunction with other best practices, like separation of roles, we can reduce attack vectors and make penetration attempts more visible, with task exceptions on release branches.

Chain of Trust Artifact Generation

Each chain-of-trust-enabled taskcluster worker generates and uploads a chain of trust artifact after each task. This artifact contains details about the task, worker, and artifacts, and is signed by the embedded GPG key.

Embedded GPG keys

Each supported taskcluster workerType has an embedded gpg keypair. These are the second factor.

docker-worker has the gpg privkey embedded in the AMI, inaccessible to tasks run inside the docker container. The gpg keypair is unique per AMI.

generic-worker can embed the gpg privkey into the AMI for EC2 instances, or into the system directories for hardware. This are permissioned so the task user doesn’t have access to it.

taskcluster-worker will need the ability to embed a privkey when we start using them for tier1 tasks in production.

Chain-of-Trust-enabled scriptworker workers each have a unique gpg keypair.

For docker-worker, generic-worker, and taskcluster-worker, we have a set of pubkeys that are valid per worker implementation. For scriptworker, we have a set of trusted gpg keys; each scriptworker gpg pubkey is signed by a trusted gpg key.

Chain of Trust artifacts

After the task finishes, the worker creates a chain of trust json blob, gpg signs it, then uploads it as public/chainOfTrust.json.asc. It looks like

  "artifacts": {
    "path/to/artifact": {
      "sha256": "abcd1234"
  "chainOfTrustVersion": 1,
  "environment": {
    # worker-impl specific stuff, like ec2 instance id, ip
  "runId": 0,
  "task": {
    # task defn
  "taskId": "...",
  "workerGroup": "...",
  "workerId": "..."

Chain of Trust Verification

Currently, only chain-of-trust-enabled scriptworker instances verify the chain of trust. These are tasks like signing, publishing, and submitting updates to the update server. If the chain of trust is not valid, scriptworker kills the task before it performs any further actions.

The below is how this happens.

Decision Task

The decision task is a special task that generates a taskgraph, then submits it to the Taskcluster queue. This graph contains task definitions and dependencies. The decision task uploads its generated graph json as an artifact, which can be inspected during chain of trust verification.

We rebuild the decision task’s task definition via json-e, and verify that it matches the runtime task definition.

GPG homedir management

The chain of trust artifacts are signed, but without marking the gpg public key as valid, we don’t know if it’s been signed by a valid worker key.

We have a github repo of pubkeys. The latest valid commit is tagged and signed with a trusted gpg key. More on this in Chain of Trust GPG Key Management.

Each scriptworker instance

  • gets the set of trusted gpg pubkeys from puppet,
  • imports them into ~/.gnupg,
  • and signs them with their private gpg key, so we can validate the git commit signatures.
  • we update to the latest valid-signed tag, and regenerate the worker-implementation gpg homedirs if we’re on a new git revision.

Then it builds a gpg homedir per worker implementation type (generic-worker, docker-worker, taskcluster-worker, scriptworker). Each has a corresponding directory in the git repo.

Each gpg homedir is separate from the others, so malicious or outdated keys can only affect the security of that single worker implementation.

The logic for gpg homedir creation is as follows:

flat directories

The Taskcluster-team-maintained worker implementations use the flat directory type, to reduce maintenance overhead.

For flat directories, scriptworker imports all pubkeys from the corresponding directory, and signs them to mark the pubkeys as valid. This allows us to verify the signature on the signed chain of trust json artifacts.

signed directories

This is currently only for scriptworker.

  • scriptworker imports all pubkeys in the trusted/ subdirectory, signs them, and marks them as trusted.
  • scriptworker imports all pubkeys in the valid/ subdirectory. They should already be signed by one of the keys in the trusted/ subdirectory, so scriptworker doesn’t otherwise sign or mark them as valid.

Building the chain

First, scriptworker inspects the [signing/balrog/pushapk/beetmover/etc] task that it claimed from the Taskcluster queue. It adds itself and its Decision Task to the chain.

Any task that generates artifacts for the scriptworker then needs to be inspected. For scriptworker tasks, we have task.payload.upstreamArtifacts, which looks like

  "taskId": "upstream-task-id",
  "taskType": "build",  # for cot verification purposes
  "paths": ["path/to/artifact1", "path/to/artifact2"],
  "formats": ["gpg", "jar"]  # This is signing-specific for now; we could make formats optional, or use it for other task-specific info
}, {

We add each upstream taskId to the chain, with corresponding taskType (we use this to know how to verify the task).

For each task added to the chain, we inspect the task definition, and add other upstream tasks:

  • if the decision task doesn’t match, add it to the chain.
  • docker-worker tasks have task.extra.chainOfTrust.inputs, which is a dictionary like {"docker-image": "docker-image-taskid"}. Add the docker image taskId to the chain (this will likely have a different decision taskId, so add that to the chain).

Verifying the chain


  • downloads the chain of trust artifacts for each upstream task in the chain, and verifies their signatures. This requires detecting which worker implementation each task is run on, to know which gpg homedir to use. At some point in the future, we may switch to an OpenSSL CA.
  • downloads each of the upstreamArtifacts and verify their shas against the corresponding task’s chain of trust’s artifact shas. the downloaded files live in cot/TASKID/PATH , so the script doesn’t have to re-download and re-verify.
  • downloads each decision task’s task-graph.json. For every other task in the chain, we make sure that their task definition matches a task in their decision task’s task graph.
  • rebuilds decision and action task definitions using json-e, and verifies the rebuilt task definition matches the runtime definition.
  • verifies each docker-worker task is either part of the prebuild_docker_image_task_types, or that it downloads its image from a previous docker-image task.
  • verifies each docker-worker task’s docker image sha.
  • makes sure the interactive flag isn’t on any docker-worker task.
  • determines which repo we’re building off of.
  • matches its task’s scopes against the tree; restricted scopes require specific branches.

Once all verification passes, it launches the task script. If chain of trust verification fails, it exits before launching the task script.

Chain of Trust GPG Key Management

GPG key management is a critical part of the chain of trust. There are several types of gpg keys:

  • [taskcluster team] worker keys, which are unsigned pubkeys for docker- and generic- workers.
  • [releng team] scriptworker keys, which are signed pubkeys for scriptworkers.
  • [releng team] scriptworker trusted keys, which are the pubkeys of releng team members who are allowed to generate and sign scriptworker keys.
  • [various] git commit signing keys. We keep the above pubkeys in a git repo, and we sign the commits. These are the pubkeys that are allowed to sign the git commits.

Adding new git commit signing gpg keys

To update the other pubkeys, we need to be able to add them to the git repo. We add the new pubkeys in two places: add the long keyid in-repo, and add the pubkey itself in puppet

Adding new worker gpg keys

New worker gpg keys should be committed to the repo with signed commits. Only certain people can sign the commits, as per above.

new docker and generic worker gpg keys

When generating a new AMI or image, the docker and generic workers generate a new gpg keypair. The Taskcluster team has the option of recording the public key and adding it to the repo.

The pubkeys for build, decision, and docker-image workerTypes should be added to the repo, with a signed tag per the readme.

new scriptworker gpg keys

First, you will need access to a trusted key (The trusted keys are in the scriptworker/trusted dir. That may mean someone else needs to generate the keys, or you may petition for access to create and sign these keys. (To do so, update the trusted keys with a new pubkey, sign that commit with a trusted git commit key, and merge. If you don’t have a trusted git key, see adding new git commit signing gpg keys.)

Once you have access to a trusted key, generate new gpg keypairs for each host. The email address will be username@fqdn, e.g. You can use this script, like

scriptworker/scripts/ -u cltsign -s
# This will generate a gpg homedir in ./gpg
# Keys will be written to ./host{1,2}{pub,sec}

Next, sign the newly created gpg keys with your trusted gpg key.

  1. import pubkey
gpg --import
  1. sign pubkey
gpg --list-keys EMAIL
gpg --sign-key EMAIL  # or fingerprint
  1. export signed pubkey
gpg --armor --export EMAIL >  # or fingerprint

The signed pubkey + private key will need to go into hiera, as described here.

The signed pubkey will need to land in scriptworker/valid with a signed tag, per the readme.

Chain of Trust Testing / debugging

The verify_cot entry point allows you to test chain of trust verification without running a scriptworker instance locally.

Create the virtualenv

  • Install git, python>=3.6, and python3 virtualenv.
  • Clone scriptworker and create virtualenv:
git clone
cd scriptworker
virtualenv3 venv
. venv/bin/activate
python develop

Set up the test env

  • Create a ~/.scriptworker or ./secrets.json with test client creds.
  • Create the client at the client manager. Mine has the assume:project:taskcluster:worker-test-scopes scope, but I don’t think that’s required.
  • The ~/.scriptworker or ./secrets.json file will look like this (fill in your clientId and accessToken):
  "credentials": {
    "clientId": "mozilla-ldap/",
    "accessToken": "********"

Find a task to test

  • Find a cot-enabled task on treeherder to test.
  • Click it, click ‘inspect task’ in the lower left corner.
  • The taskId will be in a field near the top of the page.

Run the test

  • Now you should be able to test chain of trust verification!
verify_cot --task-type TASKTYPE TASKID  # e.g., verify_cot --task-type signing cbYd3U6dRRCKPUbKsEj1Iw