by substack

substack / cipherhub

encrypt messages based on ssh public keys with easy import from github

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encrypt messages based on ssh public keys


It can be frustrating and annoying to communicate with somebody using public key cryptography since setting up PGP/GPG is a hassle, particularly managing keyrings and webs of trust.

Luckily, you can fetch the public ssh keys of anybody on github by going to:$USERNAME.keys

If you just want to send somebody an encrypted message out of the blue and they already have a github account with RSA keys uploaded to it, you can just do:

cipherhub $USERNAME < secret_message.txt

and it will fetch their public keys from github, storing the key locally for next time.

There is an

openssl rsautl
command to do this but the usage is not particularly friendly and doesn't keep a keyring around.


With npm do:

npm install -g cipherhub

to get the



cipherhub USERNAME {OPTIONS} < message.txt

Create an encrypted message for USERNAME on stdin.

If there isn't yet a local key stored for USERNAME, request a key from$USERNAME.keys

If there are multiple RSA keys, the operation fails and you will need to add the key you want manually with cipherhub --add. If there are no RSA keys, the command fails with a nonzero exit code.


--no-github     don't request key data from github, just fail
--no-save       don't automatically save keys fetched from github
--quiet, -q     suppress extra output
--encoding, -e  output encoding to use. default: base64

cipherhub --add USERNAME < cipherhub -a USERNAME <

Set the public key for USERNAME from stdin.

cipherhub --remove USERNAME cipherhub -r USERNAME

Remove a USERNAME from the local key list.

cipherhub --list cipherhub -l

List all the keys in the local key list.

cipherhub --decrypt PRIVKEY {OPTIONS} cipherhub -d PRIVKEY {OPTIONS}

Decrypt a message on stdin with an rsa key file PRIVKEY. If PRIVKEY isn't specified, only -d by itself, cipherhub uses ~/.ssh/id_rsa


--encoding, -e  input encoding. default: base64

crazy ideas

You can create private github issues by just encrypting your message with the maintainer's public key and posting the issue with the ciphertext.

caveat npmtor

github's servers can be compromised by a court order, intruder, or employee. You should use a secondary means of verification to check all the keys fetched from github where secrecy from courts, intruders, and github employees is of paramount importance.



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