Signing The Response

NetLicensing response spoofing by man-in-the-middle (MITM) is prevented by using SSL for encryption between NetLicensing server and the client. This, however, does not guarantee against response spoofing by the malicious user directly at the client, for example by substituting the NetLicensing server with a host in the local network. Therefore NetLicensing adds an additional security layer, namely signing the response of a call to licensee validate method.


Response signature is implemented according to XML Signature spec (also known as XMLDSIG) and is currently only implemented in the NetLicensing Client Libraries for Java and C#. Your contribution for adding the response signature verification functionality to other NetLicensing client libraries is highly welcomed!


Response signature only works when the following preconditions are fulfilled:


Currently, response signing setup is only possible via direct call to the NetLicensing API. The following description uses Java NetLicensing Client library and cURL in code examples and OpenSSL for the key manipulation.

1. Create public/private RSA key pair

NetLicensing currently only supports RSA algorithm for the keys, we recommend to use at least 2048 bits key length. Other algorithms may be added in the future. The key should be in PKCS#8 PEM format, without any additional text information.

Generating key pair
$ openssl genpkey -algorithm RSA -out rsa_private.pem -pkeyopt rsa_keygen_bits:2048
$ openssl rsa -in rsa_private.pem -pubout -out rsa_public.pem
$ cat rsa_private.pem

2. Create an API Key with the attached RSA private key

Create a token with the type APIKEY, setting the property privateKey to the content of your private key (headers, footers, and line breaks can be omitted). Since this API Key will only be used for the licensee validate call, also limit its access by assigning the ‘ROLE_APIKEY_LICENSEE’ role, although it is not required for the signature.

Create API Key (cURL)
$ curl -X POST \ \
  -H 'Accept: application/xml' \
  -H 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded' \
  -u <username>:<password> \
  -d 'tokenType=APIKEY&apiKeyRole=ROLE_APIKEY_LICENSEE' \
  --data-urlencode privateKey@rsa_private.pem \
  | xmllint --format -
Create API Key (NetLicensing Java Client)
final Context context = new Context();
final Token newToken = new TokenImpl();
newToken.addProperty("apiKeyRole", "ROLE_APIKEY_LICENSEE");
                + "VsUC6iVnpTlepyLB4ZImyWBjcNme4DLufbwCKi0iPzQIDAQABAkBSv7sBnL0MubB/VTm8woUIGrBOlj7n1bHMVf9"
                + "BUZIKyI/2qOVmFKtlxXXe8i5XHcg0pZukICTSWB4htxXqs8ABAiEA4JUTuq9yl2jy4aAyyrOQyPJ9s2a449tsiw3"
                + "VNIcS8wECIQCZIrcE1FxNKZLgE4mrMnfZwXJ4MqO2WH6QGznMHLP4zQIgCxwUz8ViG89bRIISQSjE3svwH/HS76K"
                + "pKe/TPjf4XgECIQCRE5pgMO/hCmnjb58VWZLB8csIpLEEp4H/9EslXGwEYQIgVw4LJk0EINngF2qSv0z12Q29WMr"
                + "aaNNcwvc3k5g5kqc=");
final Token apiKeyToken = TokenService.create(context, newToken);
final String apiKey = apiKeyToken.getNumber();

This has to be done in a secure environment, where you can be sure the key will not be compromised. Never expose your private key within the client environment!

3. Execute licensee validation

Once the API Key is set up, use it in your software on the client-side along with the public part of the generated key pair to call the validate method. Store public key securely in your software along with the API Key, make sure malicious user has no easy access to the stored public key and can’t replace it with his own - this is a very sensitive aspect of this security mechanism. Provide the public key using the setPublicKey method in the validation parameters. This will enable the signature verification logic in the client library. The public key is only used locally for the verification, it is not sent anywhere.

Validate licensee (cURL)
$ curl -X POST \<licensee>/validate \
  -H 'Accept: application/xml' \
  -H 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded' \
  -u apiKey:<tokenNumber> \
  -d 'productNumber=<productNumber>' \
  | xmllint --format -
Validate licensee and verify signature (NetLicensing Java Client)
final Context context = new Context();
final ValidationParameters validationParameters = new ValidationParameters();
        + "rkveVbFAuolZ6U5XqciweGSJslgY3DZnuAy7n28AiotIj80CAwEAAQ==");
ValidationResult validationResult = LicenseeService.validate(context, licenseeNumber, validationParameters);

If the signature verification fails, WrongResponseFormatException exception is thrown with the message providing details.

Exception on signature verification failure
com.labs64.netlicensing.exception.WrongResponseFormatException: Response has no signature.