Testing the Signed Applet in Java

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Testing the Signed Applet
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Now that a signed applet exists, and it is embedded within a Web page, it's ready for testing before release. Testing requires either appletviewer or a Web browser that knows how to validate JARs signed by javakey
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and allows signed JARs to leave the sandbox. Unfortunately, neither of the two major browsers (Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer) support javakey-signed JARs. HotJava and the appletviewer program that comes with the JDK can validate JARs signed by javakey. They will allow signed applets out of the sandbox if the signature is valid and the policy states that the user whose signature appears is trusted. Both of these programs search for the identitydb.obj in the same manner that javakey does. The problem is that no one should be surfing the Net with HotJava (too dangerous), and the appletviewer cannot be used to browse the Internet. Since the VMs in Communicator and Internet Explorer do not support javakey signing, in order run javakey-signed applets with those browsers, users must download and install Sun's Java Plug-In.
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Java Plug-In for Communicator and Internet Explorer
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Java Plug-In can be used to run applets instead of the browser's default VM. The Java Plug-In can be configured to use the most recent version of the Java Runtime Environment available from Sun. When an applet is run through the Java Plug-In instead of the browser's default VM, javakey-signed JARs can be verified and can step outside of the sandbox (if policy allows). Users must download the Plug-In from Sun and install it on their system. The download page for the PlugIn is java.sun.com/products/plugin/index.html. Applet developers also need to modify the HTML pages that contain their applets and modify the <APPLET> tag. Applets that are in Web pages using the standard <APPLET> tag will still be run by the browser's default page. The Plug-In will run applets only when it detects a different set of HTML tags that specify an applet. Sun provides an application called HTMLConverter, which can convert pages with the <APPLET> tag into pages containing tags that will launch applets using the Plug-in. The HTMLConverter homepage is java.sun.com/products/plugin/converter.html. Two things to note about using the Plug-In. On Solaris, JavaScript must be enabled for the Plug-In to work properly. With JavaScript disabled, applets did not load or run when we tested the Plug-In with Communicator 4.02 and 4.06. On Win32, the Java Plug-In did not find the identitydb.obj file in the same place that javakey did. This has to do with different versions of the VM setting different values of the user.home Property. If you run into trouble, try moving the identitydb.obj file to a different location. Places to try are mentioned in the section, Creating A Signing Certificate (see page 298).
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Distributing Public Keys and Certificates
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In order for someone to verify who signed a signed JAR, he or she needs the public key of the entity who signed the JAR in the first place. Until the public key is distributed to people other than its owner, no one but the owner can verify that an applet is signed and by whom. Once the signed applet has been tested and has proven to be functional, it can be placed on a Web site for use by others. In order for the applet to escape the sandbox imposed by other people's browsers, users must have the public key or certificate of the entity that signed the applet. Also, the user must tell the identity database that he or she trusts the entity that signed the applet. Trusting the entity that signed the applet allows the applet complete access to the host. Here's how to create a trusted entry: javakey c signername true To import the signer's public key contained in keyfile, run: javakey ik signername keyfile To import the signer's certificate (which contains the signer's public key) from certfile, run: javakey ic signername certfile The identity must be created in the database before trying to import either the public key or certificate. In order to verify the signature on a signed JAR, you need only the public key of the signer. Certificates include the public key. The signer of the applet must make his or her public key (or certificate) available to users of the applet in some way. It could be linked from a Web site, phoned in, or delivered through email. Whichever way it is done, the identity must first be extracted from the identity database. To extract a public key from the database to a file keyfile, use the command: javakey ek signername keyfile To extract signername's certificate number 1 to a file certfile, use the command: javakey ec signername 1 certfile The information in the keyfile or certfile should be given to those who want to create a policy that allows applets signed with the identity to leave the sandbox.
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