It has been an exciting quarter for supply chain security and SLSA, with the release of the SLSA v1.0 specification, SLSA provenance support for npm, and the announcement of new SLSA Level 3 builders for Node.js and containers!

SLSA already provides and maintains official builders for Go, Node.js and Container based projects. But what if you don’t use any of these languages or use custom tooling that isn’t supported by the official builders?

To empower the community to create their own provenance builders and leverage the secure architecture of the official SLSA builders we are releasing the “Build Your Own Builder” (BYOB) framework for GitHub Actions. This makes it easy to take an existing GitHub Action (e.g. JReleaser) and make it produce SLSA Build Level 3 provenance.

Writing a builder from scratch is a tedious multi-month effort. The BYOB framework streamlines this process and cuts the development time down to a few days. As a builder author, you don’t need to worry about keeping signing keys secure, isolation between builds, the creation of attestations; all this is handled seamlessly by the framework, using the same security design principles as our existing builders.

To demonstrate the flexibility of this framework, we are also announcing three SLSA builders created by community contributors for the Java ecosystems.

Build Your Own Builder Framework

The BYOB framework benefits both GitHub Action maintainers and GitHub Action users:

  1. For Action maintainers, it makes it easy to meet the SLSA Build L3 requirements.
  2. For Action users, it makes it easy to adopt SLSA by trusting the BYOB project and the Action code - without worrying about which machine runs the Action.

The BYOB framework provides a set of GitHub Actions and workflows that helps builder authors generate provenance. Suppose you own a GitHub Action called MyAction and want to generate provenance showing that it ran on some input and generated some output, without having to trust the Workflow that called your Action. This is not possible using a regular Action because Actions run under the control of the calling Workflow (the diagram below depicts a project’s release.yml workflow calling MyAction).


To solve this problem, you could turn your Action into a Reusable Workflow. This results in MyAction running in a VM under your control, not the caller’s control. This option is depicted in the diagram below: The project’s release.yml calls the Reusable Workflow MyReusableWorkflow which in turn calls MyAction and generates provenance for the run.


However, this is a lot of work that requires careful design and implementation. That’s where the BYOB framework comes in! BYOB offloads all of the security critical work so that you can wrap your Action in a Reusable Workflow and call BYOB to do the heavy lifting. This high-level architecture is depicted in the diagram below: The MyReusableWorkflow calls the BYOBWorkflow which acts as an orchestrator.

BYOB architecture

There are two main steps to using the BYOB framework. First, the builder (MyReusableWorkflow) initializes the BYOB framework (BYOB_Initialize box in the middle box). Then it calls the framework (BYOB_Run box). Running the framework transfers execution to the BYOB framework which will run the MyAction in an isolated environment and then generate provenance.

Let’s see each of these steps in more detail.

The snippet below shows how the initialization step is performed: the builder MyReusableWorkflow initializes the BYOB framework for the ubuntu-latest runner, with a build Action path MyAction and asks it to attest to its inputs. At runtime, the BYOB framework will isolate the MyAction into an ephemeral VM and run it on an ubuntu-latest runner. The call below returns a so-called “slsa-token” object which can then be used to run the framework itself.

uses: slsa-framework/slsa-github-generator/actions/delegator/setup-generic@v1.8.0
    slsa-runner-label: "ubuntu-latest"
    slsa-build-action-path: "path/to/MyAction"
    slsa-workflow-inputs: ${{ toJson(inputs) }}

The second step is to run the BYOB framework with the initialized “slsa-token”:

uses: slsa-framework/slsa-github-generator/.github/workflows/delegator_generic_slsa3.yml@v1.8.0
    slsa-token: ${{ needs.slsa-setup.outputs.slsa-token }}
    secret1: ${{ inputs.password }}
    secret2: ${{ inputs.token }}

When the run completes, the BYOB framework will generate a list of attestations for the artifacts indicated by the builder (MyReusableWorkflow). More information is available in our documentation.

SLSA Java builders for JReleaser, Maven and Gradle

To validate the design of the BYOB framework and demonstrate its flexibility, we have partnered with new contributors to create three new builders for the Java ecosystems:

  1. A JReleaser Java builder which wraps the existing GitHub Action for JReleaser into a SLSA3-compliant builder. The integration was done by aalmiray@, the maintainer of the JReleaser project. The resulting builder is hosted in the same repository as its original Action, so that JReleaser users can continue using the repositories they are already accustomed to.

  2. A Maven builder, contributed by Ada Logics. This builder is currently hosted in the OpenSSF SLSA repository.

  3. A Gradle builder, contributed by Ada Logics. This builder is currently hosted in the OpenSSF SLSA repository.

These Java builders can publish provenance attestation on Maven central. Additionally, the JReleaser SLSA builder can provide attestation for artifacts published as GitHub release assets and/or uploaded to cloud storage such as AWS S3. Like other builders released by the SLSA Tooling SIG, the provenance can be verified using the slsa-verifier.

Verification of Artifact

To verify the provenance of an artifact built by the Maven builder, we need to download the artifact and its provenance. In this example, we download them from Maven central. Maven Central lets users browse the files of each release, and from there we can find the artifacts along with their provenance files:

Maven provenance link

The slsa-verifier can be used to verify the provenance. The tool verifies the signature on the provenance and the source used to build the artifact, as per the SLSA specifications.

wget "${ARTIFACT_URL}" && wget "${PROVENANCE_URL}"
slsa-verifier verify-artifact "${ARTIFACT}" \
  --provenance-path "${ARTIFACT}.build.slsa" \
  --source-uri \
  [--source-tag v1.2.3]

Verification of Dependencies

A Java project contains not only the main application code, but also its dependencies consumed as “packages”. We can therefore recursively verify each dependency’s provenance. To this end, we’re releasing an experimental Maven plugin. The plugin resolves all dependencies of a given project and checks if they have provenance attestations along with their releases. When the plugin finds a dependency that has a provenance statement, it verifies it against the dependency.

The plugin automatically performs the verification when configured in the “pom.xml”. Or it may be run manually. See our documentation.

The plugin is still a proof-of-concept, but it demonstrates what’s possible with and likely to come from the BYOB Framework. With the framework producing L3 provenance for GitHub Actions users, and the plugin automatically verifying Maven packages, we have built an end-to-end solution for an entire ecosystem.


Thanks to the BYOB framework, it’s now possible for maintainers of existing GitHub Actions to start producing SLSA Level 3 provenance attestations!

If you are a maintainer of an existing GitHub Action, try it out by following the BYOB documentation and don’t hesitate to report issues or ask questions on the slsa-github-generator repository.

Special thanks: Zach Steindler (GitHub), Ian Lewis, Asra Ali, Appu Goundan (Google) for the help landing this feature (design, reviews, implementation, etc)!