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This library implements the OPAQUE protocol as proposed in an early draft by the IRTF CFRG in THe draft has been updated since then and this implementation is now slightly out of sync, but as soon as the specification gets more stable, it is planned to reach full compliance with it.

It comes with bindings for js, php7, ruby, java, erlang, lua, python, go and SASL. There are also a 3rd party bindings for:

Some more information about OPAQUE can be found in a series of blogposts:

There is a live demo between a python/flask backend and a js/html frontend.

The OPAQUE Protocol

The OPAQUE protocol is an asymmetric password-authenticated key-exchange. Essentially it allows a client to establish a shared secret with a server based on only having a password. The client doesn't need to store any state. The protocol has two phases:

  • In the initialization phase a client registers with the server.
  • In the AKE phase the client and server establish a shared secret.

The initialization only needs to be executed once, the key-exchange can be executed as many times as necessary.

The following sections provide an abstract overview of the various steps and their inputs and outputs, this is to provide an understanding of the protocol. The various language bindings have - language-specific - slightly different APIs in the way the input/output parameters are provided to the functions, see details in the READMEs of the bindings sub-directories.


The original paper and the IRTF CFRG draft differ, in the original paper a one-step registration is specified which allows the server during initialization to inspect the password of the client in cleartext. This allows the server to enforce password sanity rules (e.g. not being listed in hacked user databases), however this also implies that the client has to trust the server with this password. The IRTF CFRG draft doesn't specify this registration, instead it specifies a four-step protocol which results in exactly the same result being stored on the server, without the client ever exposing the password to the server.

One-step registration revealing password to server

Before calling the registration function the server should check the strength of the password by obeying NIST SP 800-63-3b) and if insufficient reject the registration.

The registration function takes the following parameters:

  • the client password
  • the optional long-term server private key skS
  • the IDs

The result of the registration is a record that the server should store to be provided to the client in the key-exchange phase. Additionally an export_key is also generated which can be used to encrypt additional data that can be decrypted by the client in the key-exchange phase. Where and how this additional export_key encrypted data is stored and how it is retrieved by the client is out of scope of the protocol, for example this could be used to store additional keys, personal data, or other sensitive client state.

Password Privacy Preserving registration

This registration is a four step protocol which results in exactly the same outcome as the one-step variant, without the server learning the client password. It is recommended to have the client do a password strength according to NIST SP 800-63-3b check before engaging in the following protocol.

The following steps are executed, starting with the client:

  1. client: sec, req = CreateRegistrationRequest(pwd)

The outputs in the first step are

  • a sensitive client context sec that is needed in step 3, this should be kept secret as it also contains the plaintext password.
  • and request req that should be sent to the server, this request does not need to be encrypted (it is already).
  1. server: ssec, resp = CreateRegistrationResponse(req, skS)

In the second step the server takes the request and an optional long-term server private key skS. In case no skS is supplied a user-specific long-term server keypair is generated. The output of this step is:

  • a sensitive server context ssec, which must be kept secret and secure until step 4 of this registration protocol.
  • a response, which needs to be sent back to the client, this response does not need to be encrypted (it is already).
  1. client: recU, export_key = FinalizeRequest(sec, resp, ids)

In the third step the client takes its context from step 1, the servers response from step 2, and the IDs of the server and client to assemble a record stub recU and an export_key. In case the client wishes to (and the server supports it) to encrypt and store additional data at the server, it uses the export_key to encrypt it and sends it over to the server together with the record stub. The record stub might or might not be needed to be encrypted, depending on the OPAQUE envelope configuration.

  1. server: rec = StoreUserRecord(ssec, recU, rec)

In the last - fourth - step of the registration protocol, the server receives the record stub recU from the client step 3, it's own sensitive context ssec from step 2. These parameters are used to complete the record stub into a full record rec, which then the server must store for later retrieval.

The key-exchange

The key-exchange is a three-step protocol with an optional fourth step for explicit client authentication:

  1. client: sec, req = CreateCredentialRequest(pwd)

The client initiates a key-exchange taking the password as input and outputting a sensitive client context sec which should be kept secret until step 3 of this protocol. This step also produces a request req - which doesn't need to be encrypted (it is already) - to be passed to the server executing step 2:

  1. server: resp, sk, ssec = CreateCredentialResponse(req, rec, ids, context)

The server receives a request from the client, retrieves record belonging to the client, the IDs of itself and the client, and a context string. Based on these inputs the server produces:

  • a response resp which needs to be sent to client,
  • its own copy of the shared key produced by the key-exchange, and
  • a sensitive context ssec which it needs to protect until the optional step 4.
  1. client: sk, authU, export_key, ids = RecoverCredentials(resp, sec, context, ids)

The client receives the servers response resp, and

  • takes its own sensitive context sec from step 1.,
  • in case the envelope configuration has set the servers public key set to not-packaged the servers public key,
  • a context string,
  • the ids of the server and client. Processing all these inputs results in:
  • the shared secret key produced by the key exchange, which must be the same as what the server has,
  • an authentication token authU which can be sent to the server in case the optional fourth step of the protocol is needed to explicitly authenticate the client to the server.
  • and finally the client also computes the export_key which was used to encrypt additional data during the registration phase.
  1. optionally server: UserAuth(ssec, authU)

This step is not needed in case the shared key is used for example to set up an encrypted channel between the server and client. Otherwise the authU token is sent to the server, which using its previously stored sensitive context ssec verifies that the client has indeed computed the same shared secret as a result of the key-exchange and thus explicitly authenticating the client.


Install libsodium-dev and pkgconf using your operating system's package manager.

Building everything should (hopefully) be quite simple afterwards:

git submodule update --init --recursive --remote
cd src


The API is described in the header file: src/opaque.h.

The library implements the OPAQUE protocol with the following deviations from the original paper:

  1. It does not implement any persistence/lookup functionality.
  2. Instead of HMQV (which is patented), it implements a Triple-DH.
  3. It implements "user iterated hashing" from page 29 of the paper.
  4. It additionally implements a variant where U secrets never hit S unprotected.

For more information, see the IRTF CFRG specification, the original paper and the src/tests/opaque-test.c example file.

OPAQUE Parameters

Currently all parameters are hardcoded, but there is nothing stopping you from setting stronger values for the password hash.

The Curve

This OPAQUE implementation is based on libsodium's ristretto25519 curve. This means currently all keys are 32 bytes long.

Other Crypto Building Blocks

This OPAQUE implementation relies on libsodium as a dependency to provide all other cryptographic primitives:

  • crypto_pwhash1 uses the Argon2 function with crypto_pwhash_OPSLIMIT_INTERACTIVE and crypto_pwhash_MEMLIMIT_INTERACTIVE as security parameters.
  • randombytes attempts to use the cryptographic random source of the underlying operating system2.


To aid in debugging and testing, there are two macros available:

Macro Description
TRACE outputs extra information to stderr for debugging
NORANDOM removes randomness for deterministic results

To use these macros, specify the DEFINES Makefile variable when calling make:

$ make DEFINES='-DTRACE -DNORANDOM' clean tests
$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./tests/opaque-test

As a shortcut, calling make debug also sets these variables. This code block is equivalent to the one above:

$ make clean debug
$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./tests/opaque-test
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