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From Jens Alfke <j...@couchbase.com>
Subject Re: Handling encryption keys in a disconnected environment
Date Wed, 09 Nov 2011 21:13:57 GMT

On Nov 9, 2011, at 9:58 AM, Jay Zamboni wrote:

we want the client application to be able to decrypt data
even when it cannot connect to the server.  This seems to force us to store
the decryption key on the client with the encrypted data.  Storing the key
locally seriously weakens our security so we would want to at least encrypt
the stored key with the users password(+salt).

Is this a pure web-app or will it have native components? iOS has APIs for storing secrets
like keys in a secure encrypted “keychain”. I’m sure Android has a similar feature.
(Even if you’re going to use a wrapper like PhoneGap to package your app for mobile devices,
then that’s likely to have JavaScript bindings for those APIs.)

           Encrypt key using session id and store in couch
As the user goes from page to page we would use the session id to load the
encryption key.  When the user logs out or the session times out, the
session id should not exist anywhere.

I don’t know the implementation details of how CouchDB tracks sessions, but if it stores
the currently active session IDs on disk, then this won’t be secure, as an attacker can
look at the server’s files and locate both the session key and the server key that was encrypted
with it.

—Jens

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