[pass] Possible improvements

Dashamir Hoxha dashohoxha at gmail.com
Tue Jan 26 16:20:04 CET 2016

I think that you gave the answer of (1) on point (2).
About point (2), is it the problem that you have to give the passphrase
each time that you want to show a password? I don't quite get it.

Another problem (related to (1)) can be that maybe you can enter
a different passphrase, by mistake, and then you will fail to decrypt it.
This is a drawback, I think.

On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 3:45 PM, Lucas Hoffmann <l-m-h at web.de> wrote:

> Quoting Dashamir Hoxha (2016-01-23 15:03:31)
> > Why do you use asymmetric encryption (public/private keys).
> > I think that symmetric encrypion is easier, stronger, and simpler
> > (you don't need to generate and maintain a key, all you need is
> > a passphrase). It can be done with `gpg -c ...`.
> I have two question/concerns about the use of symmetric encryption.  I
> assume that I store one password (or one secret) under each name in
> pass.  GPG symmetric encryption needs a passphrase for each
> symmetrically encrypted file.
> 1. But that leads to a situation where I have to remember one GPG
>    passphrase for every secret I want to store in pass.  In my opinion
>    this kills the main feature of a password manager:  To store many
>    secrets and unlock them with few/one (preferably strong)
>    passphrase(s).
> 2. I could reuse the same passphrase for several secrets in pass (in
>    order to circumvent point one).  But then I still have to type in the
>    same passphrase for every new secret I add to pass.  And I would have
>    to enter the passphrase for every secret in pass separately when
>    retrieving them.  This is because gpg-agent can and should never
>    notice that to different files (both symmetrically encrypted) have
>    the same passphrase.
> Point two can be tested like this:  Encrypt two files and enter the same
> passphrase each time (say "foo"):
> echo test1 | gpg -c > test1.gpg
> echo test2 | gpg -c > test2.gpg
> Now kill the gpg-agent (neccessary as it did store the passphrases after
> encryption):
> pkill gpg-agent
> Then try to decrypt the two test files in any order repeatedly:
> gpg -q < test1.gpg
> gpg -q < test1.gpg
> gpg -q < test2.gpg
> gpg -q < test2.gpg
> You will notice that gpg asks you for the passphrase of each file on the
> first run it decrypts *this* file, regardless if another file with the
> same passphrase was already decrypted and the passphrase stored in the
> gpg-agent.
> So regardless of any strength considerations about symmetric and
> asymmetric encryption I do not see any advantage in the interaction with
> pass when using symmetric encryption.
> Cheers
> Lucas
> PS: Don't let the length of this argument stop you from proofing me
> wrong :)
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