It is possible to somehow programmatically export a file's digital certificate's subject if the certificate itself is not installed on the workstation but is only used to sign that specific file?

I need to somehow extract that information from a file and check if it's correct. Preferably using Python/CMD/PowerShell

What I need


Sorry for the lack of details.

I'm currently using this python script (which I modified to run on Python 3.6): http://www.zedwood.com/article/python-openssl-x509-parse-certificate to parse a .cer file that I extracted from the original executable file with this little tool I've found (which I also modified to work with Python 3): https://blog.didierstevens.com/programs/disitool/ but only after I convert it from a DER-encoded binary to a base-64 with the Windows certutil.

The problem with the disitool script, though, is that it literally CUTS a 'signature' bytearray from the executable itself using the pefile python module, which makes the extracted .cer file invalid, as per the python error that I keep getting when trying to load the certificate with the OpenSSL.crypto module:

 [('asn1 encoding routines', 'asn1_check_tlen', 'wrong tag'), ('asn1 encoding routines', 'asn1_item_embed_d2i', 'nested asn1 error'), ('asn1 encoding routines', 'asn1_template_noexp_d2i', 'nested asn1 error'), ('PEM routines', 'PEM_ASN1_read_bio', 'ASN1 lib')] 

But parsing a good extracted certificate (with the first script I posted above) works, as you can see here:

Parsing works just fine]

So, I just need a way to extract the certificate from an executable, I guess. Or, if you've found my solution too complicated, If you have any idea how I could get that "Redmond" text from the certificate's Subject field, I'm very open to ideas :)

  • Since we are not a script writing service. It would be appreciated if you include what you have attempted. – Ramhound Apr 12 '18 at 14:06
  • @Ramhound I know I'm a terrible person... – EBGreen Apr 12 '18 at 14:06
  • @EBGreen - Any problems I have with this question, is with regards to the author's research effort, you are fine answering it in my opinion. – Ramhound Apr 12 '18 at 14:09
  • The comment was a joke. :) – EBGreen Apr 12 '18 at 14:10
  • @EBGreen - Humor at times totally escapes me. – Ramhound Apr 12 '18 at 14:24

In Powershell:

Get-AuthenticodeSignature C:\Path\TO\File.exe

So, using your example of explorer.exe this would get Redmond:

(Get-AuthenticodeSignature C:\Windows\explorer.exe).SignerCertificate.subject.split(',')[2].split('=')[1]

Since you asked for elaboration, Get-AuthenticodeSignature returns a System.Management.Automation.Signature object. You can find this out a few ways. Personally I prefer to assign it to a variable so I can play around with the returned object further. Once you have it assigned to a variable you can learn things about it. Get-Member should be one of your go to cmdlets in Powershell. In this case:

$foo = Get-AuthenticodeSignature C:\Windows\explorer.exe
Get-Member -InputObject $foo
   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Signature

Name                   MemberType Definition
----                   ---------- ----------
Equals                 Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
GetHashCode            Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType                Method     type GetType()
ToString               Method     string ToString()
IsOSBinary             Property   bool IsOSBinary {get;}
Path                   Property   string Path {get;}
SignatureType          Property   System.Management.Automation.SignatureType SignatureType {get;}
SignerCertificate      Property   System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2 SignerCertificate {...
Status                 Property   System.Management.Automation.SignatureStatus Status {get;}
StatusMessage          Property   string StatusMessage {get;}
TimeStamperCertificate Property   System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2 TimeStamperCertific...

So you can see that the object has some methods and some properties (I know, all objects do). In this case the methods are all the standard ones that are inherited from System.Object. The properties though are interesting. The SignerCertificate looks like what you wanted so let's see what that looks like:


Thumbprint                                Subject
----------                                -------
419E77AED546A1A6CF4DC23C1F977542FE289CF7  CN=Microsoft Windows, O=Microsoft Corporation, L=Redmond, S=Washington, C=US

The thumbrint is obviously important because it is what identifies the cert but you had asked about the Redmond that is in the subject. So now we know how to get to that as a string:


So it is just straight string parsing from here.

One more tidbit that I will throw in since it seems you may be learning Powershell. Another cmdlet that you should try regularly is Get-Command. In this case I did not even know that the Get-AuthenticodeSignature cmdlet existed before you asked the question. So I did this:

Get-Command *signature*

CommandType     Name                                               Version    Source
-----------     ----                                               -------    ------
Function        Update-MpSignature                                 1.0        Defender
Cmdlet          Get-AuthenticodeSignature                    Microsoft.PowerShell.Security
Cmdlet          Save-VolumeSignatureCatalog                  ShieldedVMDataFile
Cmdlet          Set-AuthenticodeSignature                    Microsoft.PowerShell.Security
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Which by the way is the same thing I told you on the question that you deleted... – EBGreen Apr 12 '18 at 13:50
  • I deleted the other one because it was marked as off-topic and it was suggested I posted my question on superuser. Thanks for your comment! I tried your Powershell command but I don't know how to extract that "Redmond" bit from the certificate's fingerprint that the command returns. Can you elaborate a little bit, please? – Claudiu Dragan Apr 12 '18 at 18:25
  • If you had have put this detail in the other one it would not have gotten closed. – EBGreen Apr 13 '18 at 13:09
  • Thanks for your reply! I marked your response as the correct answer, but I was wondering: if a file is signed with 2 different certificates, what would be the PS syntax to get the subject of the second signature? I tried '(Get-AuthenticodeSignature "path-to-file").SignerCertificate[0].subject and it returns the first one, but '(Get-AuthenticodeSignature "path-to-file").SignerCertificate[1].subject doesn't seem to return the second one – Claudiu Dragan Apr 13 '18 at 17:00
  • i.stack.imgur.com/nciTM.png – Claudiu Dragan Apr 13 '18 at 17:11

in powershell: you can have comma in CN, then whis worked for me:

(Get-AuthenticodeSignature C:\Windows\explorer.exe).SignerCertificate.subject.split('=')[1].split('"=')[1]

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.