Secret Sharing in GPG

Dashamir Hoxha dashohoxha at
Fri Jan 8 23:26:06 CET 2016


I think that secret sharing in GPG would be quite a useful feature.
The idea is to split the secret key into 3 (or more) parts, so that any
two parts are enough to reconstruct the original secret key, but any
one of them alone is not sufficient to reconstruct it.

There is already a free library and tool that has an implementation of it:
If someone wants to do shared secrets he can use both gpg and
ssss-split/ssss-combine. Or he can can write wrapper shell scripts
that combine both of them.
However it would be more convenient if gpg can do it out of the box.

I think that using secret sharing has some advantages. For example
imagine some scenarios like these:

 - A user generates a new key and he tells `gpg` to share the secret key
   (or it can be the default option). Then `gpg` saves a share of the key
   saves another share on a removabe device (smard card or usb), and uploads
   a third share somewhere on the cloud, where only the user has access.

 - When the user needs to do something with the private key (sign or
   he has to insert first the removable device with the key share. Then
   will combine this share with the one stored locally, will reconstruct
the private
   key, will use it, and then will erase the key again.

 - If somebody gets temporary access to your removable device, they cannot
   find your private key, because the one share that is stored in it is not
   to reconstruct the private key. The same if someone gets access to your
   computer. They need to have access both to your computer and your dongle
   in order to be able to sign with your key, and then maybe they will also
   to know the passphrase of the private key.

   The same can be said if somebody gets access to the share of the key that
   is stored on the cloud. They need to get another share (either the
dongle or
   your pc), in order to reconstruct the key.

 - If the dongle is lost or stolen, your private key is not compromised.
   In this case you can get the share of the key from the cloud, combine it
   with the share of the key on the pc in order to reconstruct the key,
   then rigenerate three new shares: one for the pc, one for the dongle
   and one for the cloud, and delete the old shares from the pc and the
   Destroying the old shares effectively invalidates the lost share, because
   alone it is useless for reconstructing the key.

 - If the pc is lost or changed, you can get the share stored on the cloud,
   combine it with the share stored on the dongle, reconstruct the key,
   rigenerate three new shares, store them on the pc, dongle and cloud,
   and finally delete the old shares from the dongle and the cloud.

I think that this would make key management safer and more robust.
Maybe it is not the ultimate solution, but at least it could prevent some
cases like loosing the private key because you lost the smart-card,
or because you changed the pc and forgot to transfer the keys from
the old one to the new one (or you just lost the pc).

I hope that the idea that I am trying to explain is clear, but if needed I
also try to draw some diagrams, to make it easier to understand.

However I have no idea about how this can be implemented on GPG, or how
to get started. I even know a student who is interested in trying to
this as his master project, I have promissed to help and guide him, but I
am not
able to give him any advice or hint at all about how to get started.

Would somebody be willing to help and guide this student to implement this?
Or maybe this should be managed as a "Google Summer of Code" project?

Thanks and regards,
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