Encrypted, taggable, searchable cloud storage.
CrypTag was announced at DEF CON 23 in August of 2015. Presentation slides: https://www.slideshare.net/elimisteve/cryptag-building-encrypted-taggable-searchable-zeroknowledge-systems-59707471.
What is CrypTag?
CrypTag is an idea, a spec, an API, and a piece of software that makes it easy to build a zero-knowledge system, which means that the server holding user data doesn't know what it is (since it's encrypted).
It is meant as a primitive to be used to build more sophisticated systems that would rather not re-implement the pieces necessary to build a zero-knowledge system, but several useful command line applications have been built with it so far, namely cput (for encrypting/saving files), cget (for fetching/decrypting files), and cpass (CryptPass, a password manager).
To use a command line password manager, CryptPass, see "Getting Started with CryptPass", below.
How is it searchable and encrypted?
It's not fully searchable; you can query by tag. See slide 7 of the presentation from DEF CON 23: https://www.slideshare.net/elimisteve/cryptag-building-encrypted-taggable-searchable-zeroknowledge-systems-59707471/8
Then the server stores the tags in plaintext?
Nope! The client stores mapping between tags ("snowden") and a random hex string ("b6a27d9"), and the server only ever sees the random strings.
(The client also encrypts these mappings and stores them to the server, too.)
Use Cases (what CrypTag is good at) + Syncing via Dropbox
I personally have virtually all data I want shared between my laptops in one Dropbox folder that CrypTag-based programs add (encrypted) data to and grab it from.
I've been using cpass to store and fetch...
- Passwords (cpass @elimisteve)
- Credit card numbers (cpass visa digits)
- Quotes (cpass nietzsche quote)
- Bookmarks, tagged like on Pinboard or Delicious (cpass url snowden)
- Command line commands -- cross-machine shell history! (cpass install docker)
- GitHub recovery codes (cpass github recoverycode)
For more on getting started, including how to safely and securely share passwords with others via a shared Dropbox folder, check out this section of the README: https://github.com/cryptag/cryptag#getting-started-with-cryptpass
It's still early days for CrypTag and CryptPass, so don't trust your life with cpass. Eventually I will have the code professionally audited for security flaws.
Getting Started with CryptPass
The current focus for CrypTag is creating a password manager out of it
called CryptPass. CryptPass exists as a command line tool (
you can use to store and retrieve passwords. Unencrypted passwords
never touch disk; they are stored encrypted, read into memory, then
printed to your terminal for you to use, with the first one found
added to your clipboard.
Install + config:
go get github.com/cryptag/cryptag/cmd/cpass cpass
Create passwords, fetch them by tag, or delete them:
cpass create mytwitterp4ssw0rd twitter @myusername tag3 tag4 cpass @myusername cpass delete twitter
Keep reading for more advanced options, including password sharing via shared Dropbox folders.
Install Go (instructions), then run
go get github.com/cryptag/cryptag/cmd/cpass
That's it! Now run
cpass will generate a new encryption key to store your passwords
with, as well as create the directories it will use to store your
data, all in
~/.cryptag (by default).
Create a new password and associated tags with commands like:
cpass create mycr4zyemailp4ssw0rd gmail email elimisteve@gmail cpass create mytwitterp4ssw0rd twitter @elimisteve cpass create mycr4zyAWSp4ssw0rd4myj0b work aws
Fetch the password you're looking for and see them printed to the screen with commands like:
cpass gmail cpass @elimisteve cpass aws work
cpass adds the first password found to your
clipboard so you can paste it into whichever program you're using.
To view all your passwords, run
And finally, to delete all passwords with certain tags, run
cpass delete aws
To only delete one specific password, not all passwords with a generic
tag (e.g., "email") that you may have used to tag multiple passwords,
use the password's tag of the form
id:..., which is auto-generated
and guaranteed to be unique:
cpass delete id:a91d46c7-45bb-48e4-43d1-642196df15b2
Multiple Storage Backends
Maybe you want to store your personal data in
~/.cryptag but have
passwords you share with colleagues at
cpass this is secure because plaintext, unencrypted
passwords will never touch
Create a new backend with the desired name (e.g., "work") by running
You can then change the value of
DataPath at the end of
~/.cryptag/backends/work.json to wherever you want your work
passwords stored (e.g.,
being sure to use the absolute path.
(Dropbox note: CrypTag-based programs generally, and
specifically, store each piece of data (e.g., each password and each
tag) in a separate file, so it is safe for multiple people to create
passwords simultaneously and save them to a shared Dropbox folder,
unlike with KeePass, KeePassX, 1Password, and some other password
Now you can save shared work passwords with the same commands as
before, except with the
BACKEND environment variable
BACKEND=work cpass create mycr4zyAWSp4ssw0rd4myj0b work aws
Now you should share
~/.cryptag/backends/work.json with your
colleagues -- or at least the encryption key -- so that you can
decrypt passwords saved by each other.
More Convenient Multiple Storage Backends
See this issue for discussion on how to make storing data in multiple places much better! I would love your input.
I currently do this:
echo 'BACKEND=work cpass "$@"' > ~/bin/work chmod +x ~/bin/work
so I can simply do
work create mycr4zyAWSp4ssw0rd4myj0b aws
to create work passwords, or
to fetch them.
Non-use Cases (what CrypTag is not good at)
Anything that requires rapid changes being made to data by multiple users, such as:
Real-time collaborative document editing
- Real-time spreadsheet editing should work OK (as long as you're OK with "last write wins" to a cell), since each cell can be its own Row that can be changed concurrently with other Rows
Any data that is "write once, read many times" is ideal for CrypTag.
I have big plans for CryptPass and other CrypTag-based software to help make the world's data -- passwords, everything stored "in the cloud", file backups, bookmarks and so on -- more secure.
I believe that you should be able access your data from any of your devices, and just grab what you need, exactly like you can from the Dropbox mobile app. Or if you don't mind storing all your data on your computer, being able to use Dropbox (or anything similar) to sync all your data between all your devices without having to trust the company storing your data for you is also deeply important; we should all benefit from the convenience of cloud storage without giving up any privacy whatsoever.
So whatever feedback you may have, please please send it my way! Yes, there will be a graphical version of CryptPass usable on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux desktops. Eventually I'd like to have mobile apps, too, of course.
I am open to all questions, comments, suggestions, insults, and whatever else you've got.
Geeky Feedback Requested
The graphical version of CryptPass (that uses Electron + React, that then talks to a local CrypTag daemon) once the command line version, cpass, is better, and once more complex storage questions are answered, which I'd appreciate feedback on from those of you who may want to store different kinds of data in different places (e.g., all passwords in a local directory, all work passwords in a shared Dropbox folder, and all backups in S3).
I'd love to create mobile versions of CryptPass, probably starting with Ubuntu Phone, because I can write it all in Go :-), and now that both Android and iOS apps can call into Go code using some new awesome mobile shit, it shouldn't be necessary to port the core CrypTag logic to another language.
Thank you! Here's to a more privacy-friendly future for all!
This distribution includes cryptographic software. The country in which you currently reside may have restrictions on the import, possession, use, and/or re-export to another country, of encryption software. BEFORE using any encryption software, please check your country's laws, regulations and policies concerning the import, possession, or use, and re-export of encryption software, to see if this is permitted. See http://www.wassenaar.org/ for more information.
The U.S. Government Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), has classified this software as Export Commodity Control Number (ECCN) 5D002.C.1, which includes information security software using or performing cryptographic functions with asymmetric algorithms. The form and manner of this distribution makes it eligible for export under the License Exception ENC Technology Software Unrestricted (TSU) exception (see the BIS Export Administration Regulations, Section 740.13) for both object code and source code.