NaCl (pronounced "salt") is a new easy-to-use high-speed software library for network communication, encryption, decryption, signatures, etc.
NaCl's goal is to provide all of the core operations needed to build higher-level cryptographic tools.
Sodium is a portable, cross-compilable, installable, packageable fork of NaCl (based on the latest released upstream version nacl-20110221), with a compatible API.
The design choices, particularly in regard to the Curve25519 Diffie-Hellman function, emphasize security (whereas NIST curves emphasize "performance" at the cost of security), and "magic constants" in NaCl/Sodium have clear rationales.
The same cannot be said of NIST curves, where the specific origins of certain constants are not described by the standards.
And despite the emphasis on higher security, primitives are faster across-the-board than most implementations of the NIST standards.
In order to pick the fastest working implementation of each primitive, NaCl performs tests and benchmarks at compile-time. Unfortunately, the resulting library is not guaranteed to work on different hardware.
Sodium performs tests at run-time, so that the same binary package can still run everywhere.
Sodium is tested on a variety of compilers and operating systems, including Windows (with MingW or Visual Studio, x86 and x64), iOS and Android.
Sodium is a shared library with a machine-independent set of headers, so that it can easily be used by 3rd party projects.
The library is built using autotools, making it easy to package.
Installation is trivial, and both compilation and testing can take advantage of multiple CPU cores.
Download a tarball of libsodium, then follow the ritual:
./configure make && make check && make install
Pre-compiled Win32 packages are available for download at the same location.
Integrity of source tarballs can currently be checked using PGP or
verified DNS queries (
dig +dnssec +short txt <file>.download.libsodium.org
returns the SHA256 of any file available for download).
Pre-built libraries for Visual studio 2010, 2012 and 2013, both for x86 and x64, are available for download at https://download.libsodium.org/libsodium/releases/ , courtesy of Samuel Neves (@sneves).
Comparison with vanilla NaCl
Sodium does not ship C++ bindings. These might be part of a distinct package.
The default public-key signature system in NaCl was a prototype that shouldn't be used any more.
Sodium ships with the SUPERCOP reference implementation of
Ed25519, and uses this system by default
For backward compatibility, the previous system is still compiled in,
The Sodium library provides some convenience functions in order to retrieve the current version of the package and of the shared library:
const char *sodium_version_string(void); const int sodium_library_version_major(void); const int sodium_library_version_minor(void);
Headers are installed in
A convenience header includes everything you need to use the library:
This is not required, however, before any other libsodium functions, it is recommended to call:
This will pick optimized implementations of some primitives, if they appear to work as expected after running some tests, and these will be used for subsequent operations. It will also initialize the pseudorandom number generator. This function should only be called once, and before performing any other operations. Doing so is required to ensure thread safety of all the functions provided by the library.
Sodium also provides helper functions to generate random numbers,
/dev/random on *nix and the cryptographic
service provider on Windows. The interface is similar to
arc4random(3). It is
fork(2)-safe but not thread-safe. This holds
crypto_box_keypair() as well.
Return a random 32-bit unsigned value.
Generate a new key for the pseudorandom number generator. The file descriptor for the entropy source is kept open, so that the generator can be reseeded even in a chroot() jail.
uint32_t randombytes_uniform(const uint32_t upper_bound);
Return a value between 0 and upper_bound using a uniform distribution.
void randombytes_buf(void * const buf, const size_t size);
Fill the buffer
size random bytes.
Close the file descriptor or the handle for the cryptographic service provider.
A custom implementation of these functions can be registered with
In addition, Sodium provides a function to securely wipe a memory region:
void sodium_memzero(void * const pnt, const size_t size);
Warning: if a region has been allocated on the heap, you still have
to make sure that it can't get swapped to disk, possibly using
In order to compare memory zones in constant time, Sodium provides:
int sodium_memcmp(const void * const b1_, const void * const b2_, size_t size);
size bytes at
equal, another value if they are not. Unlike
sodium_memcmp() cannot be used to put
b2_ into a defined
And a convenience function for converting a binary buffer to a hexadecimal string:
char * sodium_bin2hex(char * const hex, const size_t hexlen, const unsigned char *bin, const size_t binlen);
Easy interfaces to
crypto_secretbox require prepending
crypto_secretbox_ZEROBYTE extra bytes to the
message, and making sure that these are all zeros.
A similar padding is required to decrypt the ciphertext. And this
padding is actually larger than the MAC size,
This API, as defined by NaCl, can be confusing. And while using a larger buffer and two pointers is not an issue for native C applications, this might not be an option when another runtime is controlling the allocations.
Libsodium provides an easy, higher-level interface to these operations.
int crypto_box_easy(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m, unsigned long long mlen, const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *pk, const unsigned char *sk);
This function encrypts and authenticates a message
m using the
sender's secret key
sk, the receiver's public key
pk and a nonce
n, which should be
crypto_box_NONCEBYTES bytes long.
The ciphertext, including the MAC, will be copied to
c, whose length
len(m) + crypto_box_MACBYTES, and that doesn't require to be
int crypto_box_open_easy(unsigned char *m, const unsigned char *c, unsigned long long clen, const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *pk, const unsigned char *sk);
This function verifies and decrypts a ciphertext
c as returned by
crypto_box_easy(), whose length is
clen, using the nonce
receiver's secret key
sk, and the sender's public key
message is stored to
m, whose length should be at least
crypto_box_MACBYTES and that doesn't require to be initialized.
Similarily, secret-key authenticated encryption provide "easy" wrappers:
int crypto_secretbox_easy(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m, unsigned long long mlen, const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *k); int crypto_secretbox_open_easy(unsigned char *m, const unsigned char *c, unsigned long long clen, const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *k);
The length of the ciphertext, which will include the MAC, is
len(m) + crypto_secretbox_MACBYTES, and the length of the buffer for
the decrypted message doesn't have to be more than
The "easy" interface currently requires allocations and copying, which makes it slower than using the traditional NaCl interface. This shouldn't make any sensible difference in most use cases, and future versions of the library may not require extra copy operations any more. Unless speed is absolutely critical, you are welcome to use the "easy" interface, especially if you are new to NaCl/Sodium.
A lot of applications and programming language implementations have been recently found to be vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks when a hash function with weak security guarantees, like Murmurhash 3, was used to construct a hash table.
In order to address this, Sodium provides the “shorthash” function, currently implemented using SipHash-2-4. This very fast hash function outputs short, but unpredictable (without knowing the secret key) values suitable for picking a list in a hash table for a given key.
crypto_shorthash.h for details.
This hash function provides:
- A variable output length (up to
- A variable key length (from no key at all to
- A simple interface as well as a streaming interface.
crypto_generichash is currently being implemented using
Constants available as functions
In addition to constants for key sizes, output sizes and block sizes, Sodium provides these values through function calls, so that using them from different languages is easier.
Bindings for other languages
- C++: sodiumpp
- Erlang: Erlang-NaCl
- Erlang: Salt
- Haskell: Saltine
- Idris: Idris-Sodium
- Java: Kalium
- Java JNI: Kalium-JNI
- Julia: Sodium.jl
- LUA: lua-sodium
- .NET: libsodium-net
- NodeJS: node-sodium
- Objective C: NAChloride
- Ocaml: ocaml-sodium
- Perl: Crypto-Sodium
- Pharo/Squeak: Crypto-NaCl
- PHP: PHP-Sodium
- PHP: libsodium-php
- Python: PyNaCl
- Python: PySodium
- Racket: part of CRESTaceans
- Ruby: RbNaCl
- Ruby: Sodium
- Rust: Sodium Oxide
A mailing-list is available to discuss libsodium.
In order to join, just send a random mail to
COPYING file for details,
AUTHORS for designers and
THANKS for contributors.