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WTF Solidity Lesson 37 Digital Signature

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In this lecture, we will briefly introduce the digital signature ECDSA in Ethereum and how to use it to issue an NFT whitelist. The ECDSA library used in the code is simplified from the library of the same name from OpenZeppelin.

Digital Signature

If you have traded NFT on opensea, you are no stranger to signatures. The following picture shows the window that pops up when the metamask wallet signs, which can prove that you own the private key without exposing it to the public.

metamask signing

The digital signature algorithm used in Ethereum is called the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), which is a digital signature algorithm based on the "private-public key" pair of elliptic curves. It mainly plays three roles:

  1. Identity authentication: Prove that the signer is the holder of the private key.
  2. Non-repudiation: The sender cannot deny having sent the message.
  3. Integrity: The message cannot be modified during transmission.

ECDSA Contract

The ECDSA standard consists of two parts:

  1. The signer uses the private key (private) to create a signature (public) for the message (public).
  2. Others use the message (public) and signature (public) to recover the signer's public key (public) and verify the signature.

We will work together with the ECDSA library to explain these two parts. The private key, public key, message, Ethereum signed message, and signature used in this tutorial are shown below:

Private key: 0x227dbb8586117d55284e26620bc76534dfbd2394be34cf4a09cb775d593b6f2b
Public key: 0xe16C1623c1AA7D919cd2241d8b36d9E79C1Be2A2
Message: 0x1bf2c0ce4546651a1a2feb457b39d891a6b83931cc2454434f39961345ac378c
Eth signed message: 0xb42ca4636f721c7a331923e764587e98ec577cea1a185f60dfcc14dbb9bd900b
Signature: 0x390d704d7ab732ce034203599ee93dd5d3cb0d4d1d7c600ac11726659489773d559b12d220f99f41d17651b0c1c6a669d346a397f8541760d6b32a5725378b241c

Creating a signature

1. Packing the message: In the Ethereum ECDSA standard, the message being signed is the keccak256 hash of a set of data, which is of type bytes32. We can pack any content we want to sign using the abi.encodePacked() function, and then use keccak256() to calculate the hash as the message. In our example, the message is obtained from auint256 type variable and an address type variable.

* Concatenate the minting address (address type) and tokenId (uint256 type) to form the message msgHash
* _account: 0x5B38Da6a701c568545dCfcB03FcB875f56beddC4
* _tokenId: 0
* The corresponding message msgHash: 0x1bf2c0ce4546651a1a2feb457b39d891a6b83931cc2454434f39961345ac378c
function getMessageHash(address _account, uint256 _tokenId) public pure returns(bytes32){
return keccak256(abi.encodePacked(_account, _tokenId));

Packed message

2. Calculate Ethereum Signature Message: The message can be an executable transaction or anything else. In order to prevent users from signing malicious transactions by mistake, EIP191 recommends adding the "\x19Ethereum Signed Message:\n32" character before the message, and then doing another keccak256 hash to create the Ethereum Signature Message. The message processed by the toEthSignedMessageHash() function cannot be used to execute transactions.

* @dev Returns an Ethereum signed message hash.
* `hash`: The message to be hashed
* Follows Ethereum signing standard:[`eth_sign`]
* and `EIP191`:`
* Adds the "\x19Ethereum Signed Message:\n32" string to prevent signing executable transactions.
function toEthSignedMessageHash(bytes32 hash) internal pure returns (bytes32) {
// The length of hash is 32
return keccak256(abi.encodePacked("\x19Ethereum Signed Message:\n32", hash));

The processed message is:

Ethereum signed message: 0xb42ca4636f721c7a331923e764587e98ec577cea1a185f60dfcc14dbb9bd900b

Ethereum Signing Message

3-1. Sign with wallet: In daily operations, most users sign messages using this method. After obtaining the message that needs to be signed, we need to use the Metamask wallet to sign it. The personal_sign method of Metamask will automatically convert the message into an Ethereum signed message and then initiate the signature. So we only need to input the message and the signer wallet account. It should be noted that the input signer wallet account needs to be consistent with the account currently connected by Metamask.

Therefore, first import the private key in the example into the Foxlet wallet, and then open the console page of the browser: Chrome menu-more tools-developer tools-Console. Under the status of connecting to the wallet (such as connecting to OpenSea, otherwise an error will occur), enter the following instructions step by step to sign:

account = "0xe16C1623c1AA7D919cd2241d8b36d9E79C1Be2A2"
hash = "0x1bf2c0ce4546651a1a2feb457b39d891a6b83931cc2454434f39961345ac378c"
ethereum.request({method: "personal_sign", params: [account, hash]})

The created signature can be seen in the returned result (PromiseResult) . Different accounts have different private keys, and the created signature values are also different. The signature created using the tutorial's private key is shown below:


Sign with Metamask through browser console

3-2. Signing with When it comes to batch calling, signing with code is preferred. The following is an implementation based on

This is Python code that uses the web3 library and eth_account module to sign a message using a given private key and Ethereum address. It connects to the Ankr ETH RPC endpoint and prints the keccak hash of the message and the resulting signature.

The result of the execution is shown below. The calculated message, signature, and earlier examples are consistent.


Verify Signature

To verify the signature, the verifier needs to have the message, signature, and the public key used to sign the message. We can verify the signature because only the holder of the private key can generate such a signature for the transaction, and nobody else can.

4. Recover Public Key from Signature and Message: The signature is generated by a mathematical algorithm. Here we use the rsv signature, which contains information about r, s, v. Then, we can obtain the public key from r, s, v, and the Ethereum signature message. The recoverSigner() function below implements the above steps. It recovers the public key from the Ethereum signature message _msgHash and the signature _signature (using simple inline assembly):

   // @dev Recovers the signer address from _msgHash and the signature _signature
function recoverSigner(bytes32 _msgHash, bytes memory _signature) internal pure returns (address) {
// Checks the length of the signature. 65 is the length of a standard r,s,v signature.
require(_signature.length == 65, "invalid signature length");
bytes32 r;
bytes32 s;
uint8 v;
// Currently, we can only use assembly to obtain the values of r,s,v from the signature.
assembly {
The first 32 bytes store the length of the signature (dynamic array storage rule)
add(sig, 32) = signature pointer + 32
Is equivalent to skipping the first 32 bytes of the signature
mload(p) loads the next 32 bytes of data from the memory address p
// Reads the next 32 bytes after the length data
r := mload(add(_signature, 0x20))
// Reads the next 32 bytes after r
s := mload(add(_signature, 0x40))
// Reads the last byte
v := byte(0, mload(add(_signature, 0x60)))
// Uses ecrecover(global function) to recover the signer address from msgHash, r,s,v
return ecrecover(_msgHash, v, r, s);

The parameters are:


Public key recovery by signature and message

5. Compare public keys and verify signature: Next, we just need to compare the recovered public key with the signer's public key_signer to determine if they are equal: if they are, the signature is valid; otherwise, the signature is invalid.

* @dev Verifies if the signature address is correct via ECDSA. Returns true if correct.
* _msgHash is the hash of the message.
* _signature is the signature.
* _signer is the address of the signer.
function verify(bytes32 _msgHash, bytes memory _signature, address _signer) internal pure returns (bool) {
return recoverSigner(_msgHash, _signature) == _signer;

These are parameters:


Comparing public keys and verifying signatures:

Using Signatures to Issue Whitelist for NFTs

The NFT project can use the feature of ECDSA to issue a whitelist. Since the signature is off-chain and does not require gas, this whitelist issuance mode is more economical than the Merkle Tree mode. The method is very simple. The project uses the project account to sign the whitelist issuance address (can add the tokenId that the address can mint). Then, when minting, use ECDSA to check if the signature is valid. If it is valid, give it mint.

The SignatureNFT contract implements the issuance of NFT whitelist using signatures.

State Variables

There are two state variables in the contract:

  • signer: public key, the project signature address.
  • mintedAddress is a mapping, which records the addresses that have already been minted.


There are four functions in the contract:

  • The constructor initializes the name and symbol of the NFT, and the signer address of ECDSA signature.
  • The mint() function accepts three parameters: the address address, tokenId, and _signature, verifies whether the signature is valid: if it is valid, the NFT of tokenId is minted to the address address, and it is recorded in mintedAddress. It calls the getMessageHash(), ECDSA.toEthSignedMessageHash(), and verify() functions.
  • The getMessageHash() function combines the mint address (address type) and tokenId (uint256 type) into a message.
  • The verify() function calls the verify() function of the ECDSA library to perform ECDSA signature verification.
contract SignatureNFT is ERC721 {
// The address that signs the minting requests
address immutable public signer;

// A mapping that tracks addresses that have already been used for minting
mapping(address => bool) public mintedAddress;

// Constructor function that initializes the NFT collection's name, symbol, and signer address
constructor(string memory _name, string memory _symbol, address _signer)
ERC721(_name, _symbol)
signer = _signer;

// Validates the signature using ECDSA and then mints a new token to the specified address with the given ID
function mint(address _account, uint256 _tokenId, bytes memory _signature)
bytes32 _msgHash = getMessageHash(_account, _tokenId); // Concatenate the address and token ID to create a message hash
bytes32 _ethSignedMessageHash = ECDSA.toEthSignedMessageHash(_msgHash); // Calculate the Ethereum signed message hash
require(verify(_ethSignedMessageHash, _signature), "Invalid signature"); // Validate the signature using ECDSA
require(!mintedAddress[_account], "Already minted!"); // Make sure the address hasn't already been used for minting

mintedAddress[_account] = true; // Record that the address has been used for minting
_mint(_account, _tokenId); // Mint the new token to the specified address

* Concatenates the address and token ID to create a message hash
* _account: 0x5B38Da6a701c568545dCfcB03FcB875f56beddC4
* _tokenId: 0
* The corresponding message hash: 0x1bf2c0ce4546651a1a2feb457b39d891a6b83931cc2454434f39961345ac378c
function getMessageHash(address _account, uint256 _tokenId) public pure returns(bytes32){
return keccak256(abi.encodePacked(_account, _tokenId));

// Validates the signature using the ECDSA library
function verify(bytes32 _msgHash, bytes memory _signature)
public view returns (bool)
return ECDSA.verify(_msgHash, _signature, signer);

remix Verification

  • Sign the signature off-chain on Ethereum, and whitelist the _account address with tokenId = 0. See the <ECDSA Contract> section for the data used.

  • Deploy the SignatureNFT contract with the following parameters:

_name: WTF Signature
_symbol: WTF
_signer: 0xe16C1623c1AA7D919cd2241d8b36d9E79C1Be2A2

Deploying the SignatureNFT contract.

Calling the mint() function to sign and mint the contract using ECDSA verification, with the following parameter:

_account: 0x5B38Da6a701c568545dCfcB03FcB875f56beddC4
_tokenId: 0
_signature: 0x390d704d7ab732ce034203599ee93dd5d3cb0d4d1d7c600ac11726659489773d559b12d220f99f41d17651b0c1c6a669d346a397f8541760d6b32a5725378b241c

Deploying SignatureNFT Contract

  • By calling the ownerOf() function, we can see that tokenId = 0 has been successfully minted to the address _account, indicating that the contract has been executed successfully!

The owner of tokenId 0 has been changed, indicating that the contract has been executed successfully!


In this section, we introduced the digital signature ECDSA in Ethereum, how to create and verify signatures using ECDSA, and ECDSA contracts, and how to distribute NFT whitelists using them. The ECDSA library in the code is simplified from the same library of OpenZeppelin.

  • Since the signature is off-chain and does not require gas, this whitelist distribution model is more cost-effective than the Merkle Tree model;
  • However, since users need to request a centralized interface to obtain the signature, a certain degree of decentralization is inevitably sacrificed;
  • Another advantage is that the whitelist can be dynamically changed, rather than being hardcoded in the contract in advance, because the central backend interface of the project can accept requests from any new address and provide whitelist signatures.