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Elgg implementation of my OpenPGP signin protocol
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OpenPGP SignIn for Elgg

This plugin provides a way for remote friends to be identified to your Elgg installation by their public PGP key, allowing you to write private posts that only they can read.

Roughly modelled on this:


  • PECL gnupg extension which must be initialised correctly (IMPORTANT, the default location for .gnupg is web accessible, be sure to change this before using the plugin in production!)



Install, then add your public and private keys on your settings/configuring tools. You can either use your email ones, or generate an Elgg specific key pair by clicking on the "Generate..." button (recommended).

You public key is then made available by using a rel="key" link in the page header.

When you follow a local or remote user, the plugin will attempt to fetch their public key by doing the following, in order:

  1. Look in the HTTP header for a Link: <....>; rel="key"
  2. Look in the page metadata for <meta href="...." rel="key" />
  3. Look on the page for an <a href="...." rel="key">
  4. Look on the page for a <element class="key">....</element>

If you want to make your non-Elgg presence compatible, then add one of the above to your profile page.

The plugin then provides a mechanism for you to log in to a site using a public key, and so be able to see the post.

Authentication Protocol

  • Two user profiles, Alice and Bob
  • Alice and Bob's sites generate a private and public PGP key, and internally associate it with their profile. Their public key is made available using one of the above methods!
  • Alice adds Bob as a friend, Alice's site looks at Bob's profile and saves his public key
  • Alice repeats this for Clare, Dave, Emma, Fred etc...
  • Alice writes a post, and only wants Bob to be able to read it, so lists Bob's profile as an approved viewer (we have saved his public key and fingerprint)
  • Bob visits the private post, and is denied. Oh noes! He then forms a PGP signature over the ISO8601 date and time, his profile URL and the requested url, separated by new lines, with his key, and then POSTs the ascii armoured signature as a signature variable.
  • Alice verifies the signature, and compares the signing key's fingerprint against the fingerprint of the users who are permitted to view the post, and if they match, display it.

One thing to note, although I talk about sites and services here, there is nothing about the protocol that requires server scripting (for Bob's part at least), you could use command line tools.

The plugin makes a bookmarklet available to make the signin process easier, your non-Elgg presences may want to do something similar.


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