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Re: [RFC] - Custom Subversion library for encrypting cached passwords

From: Stefan Sperling <stsp_at_elego.de>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 16:47:24 +0200

On Tue, Sep 16, 2008 at 10:08:15AM -0400, Mark Phippard wrote:
> So what if we were to write a simple library for our auth system that
> used one of these routines for encrypting data and we allowed the
> "key" to be determined at ./configure time? Something like
> --with-svn-key=MY_S3CR3T_K3Y. Would this be any more secure or is it
> trivial to figure out the key that was used by looking at the binary?

This would not be secure at all, no.

Also, I'd think you'd generally want secrets to be per-user,
and not per-binary.

> It seems like if our routine combined this key with the current
> username to encrypt the password it would be a reasonably secure
> option for storing encrypted passwords that would work in environments
> without a GUI. We could still give preference to the gnome and kde
> options at runtime if they are available.

I believe an additional auth cache provider based on GPGME
(http://www.gnupg.org/gpgme.html) could solve your problems.

Everyone using this would need a PGP key pair, the private
part of which would be the secret used when encrypting and
decrypting passwords and certificates saved to disk.
This private PGP key can be protected by a passphrase.

GnuPG-2 has an agent, which works much like ssh-agent.
You enter your passphrase once, and the agent remembers it in
locked RAM which will never go to swap. When encrypting/decrypting
passwords, the GPGME library can talk to the agent to get
at the passphrase to decrypt the private key and then use
the private key to encrypt or decrypt the Subversion password
or certificate.

This should not require a GUI, because users can enter the
passphrase via one of the 'pinentry' front-ends, various variants
of which exist -- including an ncurses-based one, which runs in
text mode.

It is possible to set up PGP key pairs for exclusive use with
Subversion, so people don't even have to use their regular
PGP keys for this if they don't want to.

As far as I can tell your only dependency then would be GnuPG-2,
which may not be readily available on old UNIX and Linux systems,
but should be installable from source. GnuPG-1.x is more widespread,
but I have no idea if GPGME can use it.

Once the PGP keys are set up and a gpg-agent is running, the usability
should match that of KWallet and Gnome Keyring (which I believe use a
"master password" instead of a PGP private key for the secret when


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Received on 2008-09-16 16:47:59 CEST

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