PowerShellSigning Scripts


Signing a script will make your scripts comply with all exeuction policies in PowerShell and ensure the integrity of a script. Signed scripts will fail to run if they have been modified after being signed.

Scripts signing requires a code signing certificate. Recommendations:

  • Personal scripts/testing (not shared): Certificate from trusted certifiate authority (internal or third-party) OR a self-signed certificate.
  • Shared inside organization: Certificate from trusted certifiate authority (internal or third-party)
  • Shared outside organization: Certificate from trusted third party certifiate authority

Read more at about_Signing @ TechNet

Execution policies

PowerShell has configurable execution policies that control which conditions are required for a script or configuration to be executed. An excecution policy can be set for multiple scopes; computer, current user and current process. Execution policies can easily be bypassed and is not designed to restrict users, but rather protect them from violating signing policies unintentionally.

The available policies are:

RestrictedNo scripts allowed
AllSignedAll scripts need to be signed
RemoteSignedAll local scripts allowed; only signed remote scripts
UnrestrictedNo requirements. All scripts allowed, but will warn before running scripts downloaded from the internet
BypassAll scripts are allowed and no warnings are displayed
UndefinedRemove the current execution policy for the current scope. Uses the parent policy. If all policies are undefined, restricted will be used.

You can modify the current execution policies using Set-ExecutionPolicy-cmdlet, Group Policy or the -ExecutionPolicy parameter when launching a powershell.exe process.

Read more at about_Execution_Policies @ TechNet

Signing a script

Signing a script is done by using the Set-AuthenticodeSignature-cmdlet and a code-signing certificate.

#Get the first available personal code-signing certificate for the logged on user
$cert = @(Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\CurrentUser\My -CodeSigningCert)[0]
#Sign script using certificate
Set-AuthenticodeSignature -Certificate $cert -FilePath c:\MyScript.ps1

You can also read a certificate from a .pfx-file using:

$cert = Get-PfxCertificate -FilePath "C:\MyCodeSigningCert.pfx"

The script will be valid until the cetificate expires. If you use a timestamp-server during the signing, the script will continue to be valid after the certificate expires. It is also useful to add the trust chain for the certificate (including root authority) to help most computers trust the certificated used to sign the script.

Set-AuthenticodeSignature -Certificate $cert -FilePath c:\MyScript.ps1 -IncludeChain All -TimeStampServer "http://timestamp.verisign.com/scripts/timstamp.dll"

It's recommended to use a timestamp-server from a trusted certificate provider like Verisign, Comodo, Thawte etc.

Changing the execution policy using Set-ExecutionPolicy

To change the execution policy for the default scope (LocalMachine), use:

Set-ExecutionPolicy AllSigned

To change the policy for a specific scope, use:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy AllSigned

You can suppress the prompts by adding the -Force switch.

Bypassing execution policy for a single script

Often you might need to execute an unsigned script that doesn't comply with the current execution policy. An easy way to do this is by bypassing the execution policy for that single process. Example:

powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File C:\MyUnsignedScript.ps1

Or you can use the shorthand:

powershell -ep Bypass C:\MyUnsignedScript.ps1

Other Execution Policies:

AllSignedOnly scripts signed by a trusted publisher can be run.
BypassNo restrictions; all Windows PowerShell scripts can be run.
DefaultNormally RemoteSigned, but is controlled via ActiveDirectory
RemoteSignedDownloaded scripts must be signed by a trusted publisher before they can be run.
RestrictedNo scripts can be run. Windows PowerShell can be used only in interactive mode.
Unrestricted*Similar to bypass

Unrestricted* Caveat: If you run an unsigned script that was downloaded from the Internet, you are prompted for permission before it runs.

More Information available here.

Get the current execution policy

Getting the effective execution policy for the current session:

PS> Get-ExecutionPolicy

List all effective execution policies for the current session:

PS> Get-ExecutionPolicy -List

        Scope ExecutionPolicy
        ----- ---------------
MachinePolicy       Undefined
   UserPolicy       Undefined
      Process       Undefined
  CurrentUser       Undefined
 LocalMachine    RemoteSigned

List the execution policy for a specific scope, ex. process:

PS> Get-ExecutionPolicy -Scope Process

Getting the signature from a signed script

Get information about the Authenticode signature from a signed script by using the Get-AuthenticodeSignature-cmdlet:

Get-AuthenticodeSignature .\MyScript.ps1 | Format-List *

Creating a self-signed code signing certificate for testing

When signing personal scripts or when testing code signing it can be useful to create a self-signed code signing certificate.


Beginning with PowerShell 5.0 you can generate a self-signed code signing certificate by using the New-SelfSignedCertificate-cmdlet:

New-SelfSignedCertificate -FriendlyName "StackOverflow Example Code Signing" -CertStoreLocation Cert:\CurrentUser\My -Subject "SO User" -Type CodeSigningCert

In earlier versions, you can create a self-signed certificate using the makecert.exe tool found in the .NET Framework SDK and Windows SDK.

A self-signed ceriticate will only be trusted by computers that have installed the certificate. For scripts that will be shared, a certificate from a trusted certificate authority (internal or trusted third-party) are recommended.