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[liberationtech] PGP is hard to use and needs stuff installed on your computer. Use PassLok instead.

Francisco Ruiz ruiz at
Sun Jul 28 13:36:46 PDT 2013


I've thought about having a more polished interface, including multilevel
menus, etc. They've told me all of this would be possible with jquery. But
then PassLok would have to call a (large) piece of outside code, which
would violate the offline rule.

It can probably be done with pure javascript, but my knowledge of the
language doesn't go that far. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks for your great comments.

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 8:07 AM, Julian Oliver <julian at>wrote:

> ..on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 03:42:02PM -0500, Francisco Ruiz wrote:
> > Scenario: you, Alice, realize you're under NSA surveillance. You need to
> > get a crucial bit of information to your friend Bob, right away.
> > You've been using PGP, but now you suspect the NSA may have installed a
> bug
> > on your machine. Your keystrokes are being recorded.
> >
> > What can you do? Use PassLok instead.
> >
> > I wrote PassLok with three guiding principles in mind:
> > 1. Absolutely nothing should be installed or even written in the
> computer.
> > Alice should be able to go to the local library or borrow someone else's
> > smartphone, and leave no traces behind.
> > 2. Best security available. No compromises.
> > 3. Graphical interface. Only one screen, as clean as possible.
> >
> > Therefore, PassLok is written entirely in javascript. Once you load the
> > page at ( redirects you
> > there), you can save the file and you have PassLok even offline. You can
> > view the source and convince yourself that it is not connecting with any
> > server. If you know some cryptography, you can see that it is using the
> > well-known SJCL routines for AES encryption/decryption and elliptic curve
> > functions. Since the elliptic curves implemented in the current version
> of
> > SJCL only go up to the 384-bit NIST curve, I added the 521-bit NIST curve
> > (equivalent to a 15000-bit RSA key in predicted security) so that PassLok
> > uses that as a default. Even at 521 bits, the public keys are small, as
> you
> > can see from my lock (public key) below.
> >
> > PassLok performs public-key cryptography using the Diffie-Hellman key
> > exchange rather than RSA, so you can use whatever secret key you want.
> > Hopefully something that is both very hard to guess and easy to remember,
> > so you never have to write it down. PassLok will help you to come up
> with a
> > strong key, but won't force you in any way.
> >
> > PassLok can sign and verify signatures, too (many PGP implementations,
> such
> > as Mailvelope, cannot), and can also include a second secret message
> under
> > a separate key, to beat the "rubberhose attack." If you are not sure
> about
> > the authenticity of something, PassLock can make a short ID that you can
> > read over the phone. All of it from a single screen.
> >
> > I want people to use PassLok and uncover any bugs it might still have,
> > before I move on to a Gmail plugin based on its engine. I believe it is
> > already very secure and easy to use by those who know a little
> > cryptography. Hopefully the metaphor used throughout PassLok, about locks
> > and keys rather than private/public key pairs, will also make it usable
> by
> > novices.
> >
> > I'll appreciate any feedback you can give me. The link is repeated at the
> > bottom.
> I haven't given it an audit but so far it appears to be a very nice
> implementation. Congratulations. And yes, it passed the offline, locally
> hosted
> test ;)
> I feel clicking on the title 'Key / Lock Conbination' for instructions
> would
> baffle most people. The 'step by step instructions' page is good, but I
> think it
> could be more helpfully integrated. Perhaps you could have a drop-down
> menu for
> each use case, with instructions appearing as hints in each field.
> Again, great work and a great contribution!
> Cheers,
> --
> Julian Oliver
> --
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Francisco Ruiz
Associate Professor
MMAE department
Illinois Institute of Technology


get the PassLok privacy app at:
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