My second CLI application in rust was so fun!

I’ve had an itch to write a better password manager using my favorite language (rust), and this last weekend I decided to give it a go. I’ve spent the last year writing the artifact command line application (which just hit 1.0, check it out!).

I had already written a “vault” password manager in python, called litevault using scrypt to decrypt AND encrypt the passwords. That was cool, but had several issues:

  • Didn’t run on python3. I’m pretty good at writing for both but I kept hitting minor bugs and finally just gave up.
  • Adding passwords was a pain – I wrote a helper to “merge” two vaults but it was a nerve wracking experience.
  • The thought of forgetting to commit the vault was scarry – the passwords were randomly generated so they would be just gone.

I have kept my eye on the application masterpassword for some time, but I’ve never been quite happy with its mixture of features. Why does it need to know my name? What is up with the colorful symbols coresponding to a password?

All I wanted was something that using a hash of the password for validation purposes, and then site passwords are just a hash of the same password. The setings, reference hash and existing sites should be stored in a simple toml file, which can be put on github.

So I set out to write it and have completed the working implementation: novault.

Rust is da best

The first thing that hit me was how quickly I was up and running. I started by thinking I would use SHA512 hashing and quickly found a library. I used cargo-edit to achieve an impresive pace of adding libraries – every library was a quick cli command away. Having written a cli app before, I knew what I wanted. I used a list of cli libraries I had compiled to cut through my requirements like butter. Within a few hours of work I had a working prototype that compiled and actually ran.

I spent the next few hours cleaning up the docs. I discovered that maybe SHA512 wasn’t secure enough for storing the hash in plain-text on the internet so instead settled on Argon2, the winner of the 2015 Password Hashing Competition. The argon2rs library was a quick cargo add away, and the docs could be read with cargo doc --open -p argon2rs.

I refactored the library to use types for everything I cared about. It is now IMPOSSIBLE to serialize the user’s master password (outside of, and serializing a site password (even PRINTING it) requires using it’s password.audit_this attribute.

The Application

The NoVault application itself is now in a pretty good state. I would really appreciate some people more versed in security to give it an audit, as well as any contributions or tests anyone wants to contribute. It can currently be installed by installing rust and using

cargo install novault

I will probably start actually using it in the comming month. For now I am just using it to store my reddit password, which is on github. Feedback and audits would be great!