Sharing passwords using gopass, git and gpg

Tired of storing your passwords in unreliable but convenient places?
Tired of sharing password across unreliable platforms? slack, notes, etc
Tired of having your team passwords in no specific place?
If you have answer to any of this questions with a yes, then you might find
this post quite useful. If your answer was no, read it anyway, you are
already here.

Background

For quite some time, I've been trying to solve this problem I had in my mind. I was looking for a way to store my passwords (I'll refer to them as secrets also) in a secure way. But also, I wanted these features:

  • Storing passwords in the cloud

  • Easy to synchronize between devices

  • Easy to share between teammates (groups)

The solution I found was gopass.

How it works

Basically gopass is like pass (the unix password manager) with an extra pair of batteries.

Among others, the features it has, relevant to me, are:

  1. Uses gpg for secrets encryption.

  2. Uses git for secrets synchronization.

  3. Multiple password's stores (personal, company, etc).

  4. Each store can point to a different repository.

  5. Support for multiple people per store, called recipients in the jargon.

Even though it lacks a bit in documentation, the commands just do what's expected of them. So don't be afraid to play with it.

Regarding gpg, it makes me glad to start wrapping my mind around it, and gopass using it, well, makes my day :)

The only drawback I found is the lack of official windows support. I don't know if it works or not in windows.

Installation

You can check the website's installation or you can go to a more in depth explanation in gopass repo.

Usage

First of all, we are gonna need a gpg key. To create one, gopass it's not needed. Instaed, we are gonna use gpg cli that should be in your system if you have installed gopass.

How does gpg work?

In the context of gopass, we are gonna use the public and private keys provided by gpg.

Imagine you have an infinite amount of boxes (public key), that once they are closed, they can only be open with a key that only you have (private key).

From this analogy, we can conclude 2 things:

1. You can distribute your public keys and let anyone encrypt information with it. Let's say I give boxes to friends, they put something inside and close it. That's it, only I will be able to open it. And of course, I can also encrypt my stuff, in case some is sniffing around.

2. Private keys are really important, keep them safe, don't lose them, and make a backup. You can use an encrypted pendrive, a paper note in a safe place, or a yubikey. Would be nice if companies give yubikeys to their employees, right?

Creating a key

Simple as following the prompt that appears after typing the command. If you don't know what to fill, use the default values.

gpg --full-generate-key

And check the generatd key

gpg -k

Initializing gopass

Easy as typing

gopass init

This will set up some stuff and will create the default store.

I recommend adding the autocomplete to your terminal

echo "source <(gopass completion bash)" >> ~/.bashrc

Using gopass

Gopass works in a "unix" like way. You'll have a tree (folders) where the leaves are encrypted files.

gopass
    ├── my-company
    │   └── pepe@my-company.com
    └── personal
        └── pepe@personal.com

Let's begin by inserting a secret.

gopass insert personal/twitter/santiwilly

It will show a prompt and you'll have to fill the password twice. The structure I follow is this (most of them optional) {store}/{org}/{env}/{username or email}.

Now let's list our secret, by simply doing

gopass ls

We should now see, something like this.

gopass
    ├── my-company
    │   └── pepe@my-company.com
    └── personal
        ├── pepe@personal.com
        └── twitter
            └── santiwilly

Perfect!

Let's continue. I'm just gonna throw you the commands, they don't have any complexity.

Show password

gopass personal/twitter/santiwilly

Copy password to clipboard

gopass -c personal/twitter/santiwilly

Generate random pass

gopass generate my-company/anothername@rmail.com

Search secrets

gopass search @gmail.com

Using stores

Here's were my journey got a bit complicated, as I mentioned the docs are not necessary bad, but you can get lost, maybe the website could be organized a bit better. So I ended up creating multiple docker containers and started playing around.

Stores (AKA mounts) let you group your passwords. Example: personal, company. Each one can live in a different repository, and you could potentially, share company with your peers.

Initialize new store

Creates a new store located at ~/.password-store-my-company.

gopass init --store my-company

Add git remote to store

gopass git remote add --store my-company origin git@gh.com/Woile/keys.git

Clone existing store

Let's say you move to another computer, now it's where gopass starts to shine. Whether you use the same private key (imported in different computers) or you choose to have a key per machine, to clone a repo, you just need access to it.

gopass clone git@gh.com/Woile/keys.git my-company --sync gitcli

It's important to specify gitcli as the sync method. Otherwise gopass won't know how to synchronize the secret (it will use noop by default). Gopass provides other sync methods but I haven't checked them.

Solutions that provide a free private repo are:

Removing existing store

To avoid having issues with gopass, first we need to unmount the store.

gopass mounts umount my-company

Now that we've done this, it's safe to remove the folder.

rm -rf ~/.password-store-my-company

Synchronization

In gopass, sync usually means git pull and git push, maybe also commit but I'm not sure. Usually the commits are done on gopass insert.

Synchronize with git remotes

gopass sync

Synchronzing a single store

gopass sync --store my-company

Team sharing

We are finally on the last and most fantastic part, sharing secrets with people.

Suppose we have a colleague with an email logan@pm.me. This person has already generated a gpg key, for that email, on their machine.

Logan then, must export the public key and send it to us.

gpg -a --export logan@pm.me > logan.pub.asc

It's okay, public keys can be shared in untrusted environments. If you are still not convinced, try send from firefox. Keep in mind that people share their public keys in keyservers, like opengpgkeyserver.

Adding public key into gopass

We have the public key, now it's time to import it into our local gpg keyring.

gpg --import < logan.pub.asc

And lastly, we need to add the new key to a gopass store.

gopass recipients add logan@pm.me

You'll see a prompt with all of your stores. Choose the one you want, and it will re-encrypt your secrets with the new public key (plus the existing ones).

And that's it, we are done. You can of course remove recipients, but I'll let you do the search, tip: gopass recipients --help.

Conclusion

I have created a gopass cheat sheet with these commands and a presentation to convince your colleagues.

Gopass is an awesome tool to include in your toolbelt. Unfortunately, it is not that easy for non-developers, but still possible.

Some extra tools I use to enhance my gopass experience are:

Android password store

I suggest installing it using F-droid, you'll need OpenKey-chain to create a new gpg key, and you already know how to add multiple recipients to your stores.

Gopass bridge

Browser extension for Firefox or Chrome that let's you access your stores.

Gopass UI

Electron based UI wrapper for your gopass on the command line. It makes your life easier by providing a rich graphical user interface to search and manage your secrets.

Any feedback is welcome, as I'm no security expert and I'd be glad to have a better and more secure workflow.

Thank you for reading.

Note: I've added some random memes to ease the reading.

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