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Ruby PPP


At Steve Gibson describes asystem for generating one-time passcodes. The rational for such a sytem is given:

The trouble with a username and password is that they never change. We create them, write them down or memorize them, then use them over and over again. What has been needed is an inexpensive system that provides something which changes everytime it is used. GRC's Perfect Paper Passwords system offers a simple, safe and secure, free and well documented solution that is being adopted by a growing number of security-conscious Internet facilities to provide their users with state-of-the-art cryptographic logon security.

John Graham-Cumming has provided an open-source implementation of this system in C, released under the BSD license.

This gem is a ruby interface to that C implementation.


Code Generator

Note: See the "Cards" section below for a more convenient interface!

The only required object to begin generating one-time passcodes is Ppp::Generator. A generator can be created with:

code_gen = Ppp.code_generator '17d08c38930b084789cd389fafa85d4d8d01472bb4fb3ca7813e3b035b310f00'

Then you can start creating as many codes as you like:

offset        = 0
num_to_create = 5
code_gen.passcodes offset, num_to_create # => ["uZ:K", "avNC", "B:6@", "Utqh", "+buY"]

Generators are "seeded" with a given 64 hex-digit string representation of a SHA-256 hash (17d08c38930b084789cd389fafa85d4d8d01472bb4fb3ca7813e3b035b310f00 in the given example). Two generators seeded with the same SHA-256 hash will always create the same series of passcodes (assuming they are both set to create passcodes of the same length of course). Likewise, the same generator will create the exact same passcodes if called with the same offset multiple times:

code_gen.passcodes 10, 3 # => ["uNs2", "zWuL", "y4wz"]
code_gen.passcodes 10, 2 # => ["uNs2", "zWuL"]

If you can to verify that a given passcode (say, from a user) is correct, you just need the index of the expected passcode:

 code_gen.verify 11, 'zWuL' # => true

Generating seeds

You can provide any seed you want when creating a generator, but there are two helper methods to create them for you:

  • Ppp.random_key will return a random SHA-256 hash based off junk like the current time and your computer's current CPU usage.
  • Ppp.key_from_string( 'my string' ) will return a SHA-256 hash of the given string.


Generators have two optional parameters:

  • :length The number of characters in each generated passcode. Default: 4
  • :alphabet Either a Symbol matching a pre-defined alphabet (See Ppp.default_alphabets) or a String. The alphabet lists the characters in which generated passcodes will be comprised of. Default: :conservative
cg = Ppp.code_generator Ppp.key_from_string('test'), :length => 8, :alphabet => 'abc123'
cg.passcodes 0, 5 # => ["2a3b2223", "b3cc21cc", "122133ba", "a1aaccb3", "cabaa2ca"]


Generating lists of one-time passcodes is all well and fine, but the goal here is to print out "cards" of passcodes which can be held on your person. In your wallet for example.

Currently there are three types of cards you can choose from (hopefully PDFs to be added soon):

  • Plain text (:plain)
  • HTML (:html)
  • XML (:xml)

To create a card, all you need is the type of card and a Generator:

generator = Ppp.code_generator Ppp.key_from_string( 'hi' )
card      = Ppp.card :plain, generator
card.to_s # => |----------------------------------------|
               | PPP Passcard                       [1] |
               |      A    B    C    D    E    F    G   |
               |  1: xvL3 =6rA J!dc ji36 Mm!H XF#W Z6cv |
               |  2: FhdA wiu3 v#iJ FkZB WFwm LR?= coza |
               |  3: CFtT !qWB vyTM vL@V q#PH Cf=a H5y% |
               |  4: c8Bq C!7q MZkL aN4k W=Xq 7CGr DnJv |
               |  5: 54#@ 5ei+ 6EKB 5Y:# ?+vY e4K2 3Dh6 |
               |  6: rTxM jmt4 Hcxj vyTG ZX@f FBHg D+aY |
               |  7: 42Fp euUu G!f! c5Wy 4nbV Ff9r 5MSc |
               |  8: a4em ?#MM =B4: Nxme 26!G 7%7F Cv9m |
               |  9: 2kpA FVDF LMmo Ts8e Fe+j n!ox %:Ym |
               | 10: t3nh vepZ MhJq :Ps3 +Fph vxz# X=FV |

You can get the passcode for a given cell in the card using one of the following:

card.passcode 10, 'B' # => "vepZ"
card.passcode '10B' # => "vepZ"

Or verify a given passcode with one of the following:

card.verify 10, 'B', 'wrong pass' # => false
card.verify '10B', 'vepZ' # => true

In the top-right corner of the above example card, you can see the card number: [1]. Once all the codes have been used up from a card, you can just print out another one:

card.card_number = 2
card.to_s # => |----------------------------------------|
               | PPP Passcard                       [2] |
               |      A    B    C    D    E    F    G   |
               |  1: d=d% rBgr TL+d Nk42 8B8G b:5N F?8S |
               |  2: BqUf nayC unhH oipF 5sHy %:k2 FEeC |
               |  3: %P#n NNDM wPmg 9N#Y EWr2 5e7j 4rN# |
               |  4: 7N=5 7y2d bK!b PRHr :VEk hp!G 9dah |
               |  5: ovLN ReU? 2uon WD#P whPW iNzV WLq2 |
               |  6: f!Cc =%Bx iSTt 95MF d!6a %NCE ewnP |
               |  7: @jnE p27k NhKU dXFE caBF %!4H zhDR |
               |  8: yBVf ACox F7Wb u@kr CtFF uZSe MRtb |
               |  9: !%:6 oMRD LeRV eP#n iKKB Jxfy E5k8 |
               | 10: mJKG mYPd wi#K @:V3 6zen EFXJ 5dKA |


Each type of card has its own optional parameters, but they all have the following:

  • :card_title Some String to put at the head of each card. Default: PPP Passcard
  • :row_count The number of rows to print on the card. Default: 10
  • :first_card_number The number of the first card. Default: 1


Make sure that your passcode cards do not fall into the wrong hands. If you plan to provide these cards to others (say, the users of your website), make sure that you send them to them over a secure channel, such as HTTPS or encrypted email.


Ruby interface for John Graham-Cumming's implementation of GRC's Open, Ultra-High Security, One Time Password System







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