Introducing hushnote

This weekend I decided I wanted to fix my password problem. That is, I wanted my passwords secure and managed in the cloud.

Let me introduce hushnote, yet another host-proof, web-based password and secret information manager. I was inspired by the simplicity of Aaron Boodman's halfnote and Brett Cannon's Oplop. Combining the two felt natural.

Here is my suggested usage pattern for hushnote:
  • Think up a master password and enter it into the "Oplop password" box.
  • Think up a label (for instance, "hushnote", "foo", or "spam") for hushnote and enter it into the "Oplop label" box (which replaces the password box after entering your password). The Oplop algorithm will generate a new hushnote password for you based on the combination of your master password and hushnote label.
  • Copy the password into the "hushnote password" box and fetch your encrypted note.
  • Now, use the encrypted note to store your Oplop labels for other sites or any other secret information you want to keep track of.
Hushnote handles all hashing, encryption, and decryption locally in the browser. Your passwords, labels, and notes are never sent to the server unencrypted. Hushnote is served over SSL so you can be confident that it is actually hushnote you are connecting to and that it hasn't been modified in flight by any meanie-pants hackers.

The source code isn't complicated, but here's the highlight reel:
  • Your hushnote password is hashed to check if it matches the password used to encrypt the content stored on the server. This is sent along with the first AJAX call to retrieve your note.
  • Your hushnote password is then used to decrypt the content retrieved from the server.
  • Finally, your hushnote password is used to encrypt the note. Your encrypted content and password hash are sent to the server in the second AJAX call.

2 comments:

  1. Sweet! It would be nice if it didn't show my passwords in plain text as I type, though. (Happens in Chrome 4.0.220.1 on Linux and Chrome 3.0.195.27 on Windows at least).

    And another question from the paranoid peanut gallery: it seems that unless we want to audit the Javascript *every time* we use hushnote, we're basically relying on you staying honest/secure. (SSL just tells us that we're really connected to hushnote.appspot.com; it doesn't assure us that what's hosted there is what we want).

    In other words, it seems like info stored on hushnote is only as secure (for all users) as Damon's personal Google Account password. When Evil Hacker {Wom,M}an hacks your google acct, they can then upload different code to hushnote that has an identical UI but that sends (say) my oplop master password and my hushnote label straight to the baddie.

    If not, then it seems like the right thing is to use a different oplop master password for hushnote than for everything else, and to only store things like oplop labels in my hushnote file.

    Am I missing something?

    Thanks for writing this. If I can satisfy my paranoia, it will noticeably improve my life. :)

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  2. @Will The plain-text password is a known issue. I just haven't found a way to fix it that I like yet. As for verifying that the content of hushnote hasn't changed, I gave it some thought. I don't think it's possible to do that without having out-of-band monitoring or checking of the content. A browser extension would be ideal. In the mean time, I can offer you this script. Also, I use Oplop to generate my hushnote password. If a baddie did change the source of the page, he could send himself anything he wanted (passwords, labels, notes, etc.).

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