Kushal Das

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Updates from Johnnycanencrypt development in last few weeks

In July this year, I wrote a very initial Python module in Rust for OpenPGP, Johnnycanencrypt aka jce. It had very basic encryption, decryption, signing, verification, creation of new keys available. It uses https://sequoia-pgp.org library for the actual implementation.

I wanted to see if I can use such a Python module (which does not call out to the gpg2 executable) in the SecureDrop codebase.

First try (2 weeks ago)

Two weeks ago on the Friday, when I sat down to see if I can start using the module, within a few minutes, I understood it was not possible. The module was missing basic key management, more more refined control over creation, or expiration dates.

On that weekend, I wrote a KeyStore using file-based keys as backend and added most of the required functions to try again.

The last Friday

I sat down again; this time, I had a few friends (including Saptak, Nabarun) on video along with me, and together we tried to plug the jce inside SecureDrop container for Focal. After around 4 hours, we had around 5 failing tests (from 32) in the crypto-related tests. Most of the basic functionality was working, but we are stuck for the last few tests. As I was using the file system to store the keys (in simple .sec or .pub files), it was difficult to figure out the existing keys when multiple processes were creating/deleting keys in the same KeyStore.

Next try via a SQLite based KeyStore

Next, I replaced the KeyStore with an SQLite based backend. Now multiple processes can access the keys properly. With a few other updates, now I have only 1 failing test (where I have to modify the test properly) in that SecureDrop Focal patch.

While doing this experiment, I again found the benefits of writing the documentation of the library as I developed. Most of the time, I had to double-check against it to make sure that I am doing the right calls. I also added one example where one can verify the latest (10.0) Tor Browser download via Python.

In case you already use OpenPGP encryption in your tool/application, or you want to try it, please give jce a try. Works on Python3.7+. I tested on Linux and macOS, and it should work on Windows too. I have an issue open on that, and if you know how to do that, please feel free to submit a PR.