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Client SDK in Swift for Tozny's E3DB.

The Tozny End-to-End Encrypted Database (E3DB) is a storage platform with powerful sharing and consent management features. Read more on our blog.

E3DB provides a familiar JSON-based NoSQL-style API for reading, writing, and querying data stored securely in the cloud.


Get started by registering for a free account at Tozny's Console. Then create a Client Registration Token from the console and copy the token value.

To run the example project, clone the repo, and run pod install from the Example directory first.

Finally, paste the token value into the ViewController.swift source for the line:

private let e3dbToken = "<PASTE_CLIENT_TOKEN_HERE>"


  • iOS 9.0+


E3db is available through CocoaPods. To install it, simply add the following line to your Podfile:

pod "E3db", :git => ''


Full API documentation can be found here. Code examples for the most common operations can be found below.

Register a New Client

Use the client token generated from the Tozny Console to register a new client:

import E3db

// This is the main client performing E3db operations
// (for the remaining examples, we'll assume a non-optional client instance)
var e3db: Client?

Client.register(token: e3dbToken, clientName: "ExampleApp") { result in
    switch result {

        // The operation was successful, here's the configuration
        case .success(let config):
            // create main E3db client with config
            self.e3db = Client(config: config)

        case .failure(let error):
            print("An error occurred attempting registration: \(error).")

Write a Record

Create a dictionary of String key-value pairs to store a record in E3db. The keys of the dictionary will remain unencrypted, but the values will be encrypted before ever leaving the device.

// Wrap message in RecordData type to designate
// it as sensitive information for encryption
let recordData = RecordData(cleartext: ["SSN": "123-45-6789"])

// Can optionally include arbitrary metadata as `plain`
// where neither keys nor values are encrypted
e3db.write(type: "UserInfo", data: recordData, plain: ["Sent from": "my iPhone"]) { result in
    switch result {

        // The operation was successful, here's the record
        case .success(let record):

            // `record.meta` holds metadata associated
            // with the record, such as type.
            print("Wrote record! \(record.meta.recordId)")

        case .failure(let error):
            print("An error occurred attempting to write the data: \(error)")

Read a Record

You can request several records at once by specifying QueryParams, but if you already have the recordId of the record you want to read, you can request it directly.

// Perform read operation with the recordId of the
// written record, decrypting it after getting the
// encrypted data from the server. recordId) { result in
    switch result {

    // The operation was successful, here's the record
    case .success(let record):

        // The record returned contains the same dictionary
        // supplied to the `RecordData` struct during the write
        print("Record data: \(")

    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to read the record: \(error)")

Query for Records

To request several records, and even filter on a set of optional parameters, pass a QueryParams instance to the query method.

// Keep track of queried batches
var lastRead: Double?

// Construct query, filtering to:
// - return only 5 records at a time,
// - only "UserInfo" type records,
// - including records written by others
//   that have been shared with this client
let q1 = QueryParams(count: 5, types: ["UserInfo"], includeAllWriters: true)
e3db.query(params: q1) { result in
    switch result {

    // The operation was successful, here's the `QueryResponse`,
    // which has the resulting records and an index for last record
    case .success(let resp):
        print("Records: \(resp.records)")
        lastRead = resp.last

    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to query records: \(error)")

// Query for next batch using `next`
let q2 = lastRead!)
e3db.query(params: q2) { result in
    // ...

Possible filters include:

  • count: Limit the number of records returned by the query beyond the default
  • includeData: Supply the full decrypted record data in the result records
  • writerIds: Filter to records written by these IDs
  • userIds: Filter to records with these user IDs
  • recordIds: Filter to only the records identified by these IDs
  • types: Filter to records that match the given types
  • after: Number to facilitate paging the results -- used with the last property of the resulting QueryResponse
  • includeAllWriters: Set this flag to include records that have been shared with you, defaults to false


Records can be shared to allow other clients access. Grant clients read access by specifying which client and which type of record share. Inversely, access can be removed with the revoke method.

// Get the recipient client ID externally
let otherClient: UUID = ???

// Share records of type "UserInfo" with another client
e3db.share(type: "UserInfo", readerId: otherClient) { result in
    guard case .success = result else {
        return print("An error occurred attempting to grant access to records: \(result.error)")
    // Sharing was successful!

// Remove access to "UserInfo" records from the given client
e3db.revoke(type: "UserInfo", readerId: otherClient) { result in
    guard case .success = result else {
        return print("An error occurred attempting to revoke access to records: \(result.error)")
    // Revoking was successful!


Every E3DB client can authorize any other client to share data on their behalf. That is, the data producer does not need to be the sole entity that enables sharing with other clients. We call the client that is allowed to share data on a data producer's behalf the "authorizer".

Just like share, authorization is granted based on record types. That is, a client can only authorize another client to share a specific record type. There is no mechanism to grant sharing of all record types (whether any exist or not).

Note that the authorizer does not have permission to read the data shared themselves - they are only allowed to share data on behalf of the data producer.

To add an authorizer, use the add(authorizerId:type:completion:) method:

let authorizerId = // ID of client to share on this data producer's behalf
let recordType   = // type of records to authorize

e3db.add(authorizerId: authorizerId, type: recordType) { result in
    guard case .success = result else {
        return print("An error occurred attempting to grant authorizer privilege: \(result.error)")
    // client successfully authorized

Authorization can be removed with the remove(authorizerId:... methods. Authorization can be removed for all record types, or for a single record type.

A client can list all clients that it has authorized to share on its behalf using the add(authorizerId:type:completion:) method. Similarly, a client can determine all the data producers that it can share on behalf of using the getAuthorizedBy method.

Sharing as an Authorizer

A client that has been given permission to share records on behalf of a writer can use the share(onBehalfOf:type:readerId:completion:) method:

let writerId   = // ID of data writer
let readerId   = // ID of client we are sharing with
let recordType = // type of records to share

e3db.share(onBehalfOf: writerId, type: recordType, readerId: readerId) { result in
    guard case .success = result else {
        return print("An error occurred attempting to share: \(result.error)")
    // successfully shared

Local Encryption & Decryption

The E3DB SDK allows you to encrypt documents for local storage, which can be decrypted later, by the client that created the document or any client with which the document has been shared. Note that locally encrypted documents cannot be written directly to E3DB -- they must be decrypted locally and written using the write or update methods.

Local encryption (and decryption) requires two steps:

  1. Create a 'writer key' (for encryption) or obtain a 'reader key' (for decryption).
  2. Call encrypt to encrypt a new document. For decryption, call decrypt.

The 'writer key' and 'reader key' are both EAKInfo objects. An EAKInfo object holds an encrypted key that can be used by the intended client to encrypt or decrypt associated documents. A writer key can be created by calling createWriterKey; a 'reader key' can be obtained by calling getReaderKey. (Note that the client calling getReaderKey will only receive a key if the writer of those records has given access to the calling client through the share operation.)

The createWriterKey and getReaderKey are networked operations, (which means they are asynchronous operations as well), but can be performed once ahead of time. The EAKInfo instances returned from those operations are safe to store locally, and can be used in the non-networked operations of encrypt and decrypt.

Here is an example of encrypting a document locally:

let recordData = RecordData(cleartext: ["SSN": "123-45-6789"])
let recordType = "UserInfo"

e3db.createWriterKey(type: type) { result in
    switch result {
    // The operation was successful, here's the `EAKInfo` instance,
    // you can think of this as the "encryption key", but it's also encrypted,
    // so you don't have to worry about storing it in plaintext or exposing it.
    case .success(let eak):
        // attempt to create an encrypted document with the EAKInfo
        let encrypted = try? self.e3db.encrypt(type: recordType, data: recordData, eakInfo: eak)
        print("Encrypted document: \(encrypted!)")

    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to create writer key: \(error)")

(Note that the EAKInfo instance is safe to store with the encrypted data, as it is also encrypted). The client can decrypt the given record as follows:

let encrypted = // get encrypted document (e.g. read from local storage)
let writerKey = // get stored EAKInfo instance (e.g. from local storage)

// attempt to decrypt an encrypted document with the EAKInfo instance
let decrypted = try e3db.decrypt(encryptedDoc: encrypted, eakInfo: writerKey)
print("Decrypted document: \(decrypted!)")  

See Local File Protection for more information on storing your file securely with iOS.

Local Decryption of Shared Records

When two clients have a sharing relationship, the 'reader' can locally decrypt any documents encrypted by the 'writer,' without using E3DB for storage.

  • The 'writer' must first share records with a 'reader', using the share method.
  • The 'reader' must then obtain a reader key using getReaderKey.

Note that these are networked operations. However, the EAKInfo instance can be saved for later use.

let encrypted  = // get encrypted document (e.g. read from local storage)
let writerID   = // ID of writer that produced record
let recordType = "UserInfo"
var eakInfo: EAKInfo?

e3db.getReaderKey(writerId: writerID, userId: writerID, type: recordType) { result in
    switch result {
    // The operation was successful, here's the `EAKInfo` instance,
    // you can think of this as the "encryption key", but it's also encrypted,
    // so you don't have to worry about storing it in plaintext or exposing it.
    case .success(let eak):
      self.eakInfo = eak

    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to get reader key: \(error)")

The EAKInfo type conforms to Swift's Codable protocol for easy serialization, e.g. for saving to UserDefaults:

// store in UserDefaults
// assumes eakInfo is a non-optional `EAKInfo` instance
let eakData = try JSONEncoder().encode(eakInfo)
UserDefaults.standard.set(eakData, forKey: "myReaderKey")
// retrieve from UserDefaults
guard let eakData = (UserDefaults.standard.value(forKey: "myReaderKey") as? Data) else {
    return print("Could not retrieve eak data from defaults")

// deserialize into eakInfo
let eakInfo = try JSONDecoder().decode(EAKInfo.self, from: eakData)

After obtaining a reader key, the 'reader' can then decrypt any records encrypted by the writer as follows:

// attempt to decrypt an encrypted document with the EAKInfo instance
let decrypted = try e3db.decrypt(encryptedDoc: encrypted, eakInfo: eakInfo)
print("Decrypted document: \(decrypted)")  

Document Signing & Verification

Every E3DB client created with this SDK is capable of signing documents and verifying the signature associated with a document. By attaching signatures to documents, clients can be confident in:

  • Document integrity - the document's contents have not been altered (because the signature will not match).
  • Proof-of-authorship - The author of the document held the private signing key associated with the given public key when the document was created.

Signatures require the target type to conform to the Signable protocol. This protocol requires one method to be implemented:

func serialized() -> String

This method must provide a reproducible string representation of the data to sign and verify. This requires the serialization to be deterministic -- i.e. types such as Dictionary and Set must be serialized in a reproducible order.

The E3db types of EncryptedDocument and SignedDocument conform to the Signable protocol.

To create a signature, use the sign method. (This example assumes an encrypted document as create above):

let encrypted = // get encrypted document (or anything that conforms to `Signable`)
let signedDoc = try e3db.sign(document: encrypted)
print("Signed Document: \(signedDoc)")

To verify a document, use the verify method. Here, we use the same signedDoc instance as above. config holds the private & public keys for the client. (Note that, in general, verify requires the public signing key of the client that wrote the record):

guard try e3db.verify(signed: signed, pubSigKey: config.publicSigKey)) else {
    return print("Document failed verification")
// Document verified!

Reading and Writing Files

E3DB supports the storage of large encrypted files, using a similar interface for reading and writing records. The SDK will handle encrypting and uploading the file. Similarly, it will download and decrypt files as well.

To write a file, use the writeFile method.

let data = Data("Hello there".utf8)
let src  = FileManager

guard FileManager.default.createFile(atPath: src.path, contents: data) else {
    return print("Could not create file")

var recordId: UUID?
e3db.writeFile(type: type, fileUrl: src) { result in
    switch result {
    // The operation was successful, here's the `Meta` instance.
    case .success(let meta):
        recordId = meta.recordId
    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to write file: \(error)")

Similarly, to read a file, use the readFile method. The File argument should be the destination that the plaintext file will be written to. Continuing the example above, you could read the file written as follows:

let dest = FileManager

guard FileManager.default.createFile(atPath: dest.path, contents: nil) else {
    return print("Could not create file")

e3db.readFile(recordId: recordId, destination: dest) { result in
    switch result {
    case .success:
        print("File was downloaded, decrypted, and saved to \(dest.path)!")
    case .failure(let error):
        print("An error occurred attempting to read file: \(error)")

Local File Protection

Apple provides level of protections for storing files, details here. With these protection levels, your files will be decrypted automatically in the background by the OS. By default Complete until first authentication is used, but to add higher levels of protection when creating or writing to files use these options:

// Creating file
guard FileManager.default.createFile(atPath: dest.path, 
    contents: nil, 
    // Provide the proper FileProtectionType here
    attributes:[FileAttributeKey.protectionKey: FileProtectionType.complete]
    ) else {}

// Writing to file
do {
    // Provide proper option here
    try data.write(to: fileURL, options: .completeFileProtection)
} catch {}

// Changing Existing File
do {
   try (fileURL as NSURL).setResourceValue( 
                  forKey: .fileProtectionKey)
} catch {}
Storage Requirements

When uploading a file, the SDK expects to be able to (temporarily) store an encrypted version of the plaintext file in the system's temporary directory. Once the upload finishes (with or without error), the temporary file will be deleted.

When downloading a file, you must provide a location to which the file can be written. The SDK will save the encrypted file to storage, again in the system's temporary directory. The SDK will then decrypt the encrypted file writing the plaintext to the destination file.

In both cases, uploading and downloading, the SDK expects at least twice as much free storage as the size of the plaintext or encrypted file.

Query Results

Query results may include file records (uploaded via the writeFile method). A large file (vs. just a record) is indicated when the fileMeta property on the Meta instance is not nil. The contents of the file will not be included in query results, even if the includeData parameter of the QueryParams is true. Use the readFile method to retrieve the contents of the file.

Note that the data property will be empty when the record refers to a file.

Reading Records

If the read(recordId:) method is used to read a record that refers to a file, the result will be the same as when a query result contains a file record. Namely, the record's data property will be empty, and the fileMeta property of the returned meta will be non-nil.

Certificate Pinning

If desired, E3DB Clients can be provided with a URLSession instance. This can allow custom configuration for networked calls, including pinning TLS sessions to trusted certificate(s).

Simply supply a pre-configured URLSession to either the Client.register or the Client.init methods.

let config  = // load config from secure storage

// set custom delegate
let session = URLSession(configuration: .default, delegate: self, delegateQueue: nil)
let e3db    = Client(config: config, urlSession: session)

The following shows an example of how to use the URLSessionDelegate callback to restrict network activity to an intermediate certificate in a cert chain.

func urlSession(_ session: URLSession, didReceive challenge: URLAuthenticationChallenge, completionHandler: @escaping (URLSession.AuthChallengeDisposition, URLCredential?) -> Void) {
    // Adapted from OWASP
    let cancel = URLSession.AuthChallengeDisposition.cancelAuthenticationChallenge

    guard challenge.protectionSpace.authenticationMethod == NSURLAuthenticationMethodServerTrust,
          let trust = challenge.protectionSpace.serverTrust,
          SecTrustEvaluate(trust, nil) == errSecSuccess,
          let serverCert = SecTrustGetCertificateAtIndex(trust, 1) else { // checks intermediate cert (index 1)
            return completionHandler(cancel, nil)

    let pinnedCertData = loadTrustedCertData() // load cert (e.g. from file)
    let serverCertData = SecCertificateCopyData(serverCert) as Data

    guard pinnedCertData == serverCertData else {
        return completionHandler(cancel, nil)

    // pinning succeeded
    completionHandler(.useCredential, URLCredential(trust: trust))