The scrypt key derivation function
scrypt key derivation function was originally developed
for use in the Tarsnap online
backup system and is designed to be far more secure against
hardware brute-force attacks than alternative functions such as
We estimate that on modern (2009) hardware, if 5 seconds are spent
computing a derived key, the cost of a hardware brute-force attack
scrypt is roughly 4000 times greater than the cost
of a similar attack against bcrypt (to find the same password), and
20000 times greater than a similar attack against PBKDF2.
Details of the
scrypt key derivation function are given in
a paper which was presented at the
- Colin Percival, Stronger Key Derivation via Sequential Memory-Hard Functions, presented at BSDCan'09, May 2009.
- Conference presentation slides: PDF.
The scrypt encryption utility
A simple password-based encryption utility is available as a
demonstration of the
scrypt key derivation function. On
modern hardware and with default parameters, the cost of cracking the
password on a file encrypted by
scrypt enc is approximately
100 billion times more than the cost of cracking the same password on
a file encrypted by
openssl enc; this means that a
five-character password using
scrypt is stronger than a
ten-character password using
scrypt utility can be invoked as
scrypt enc infile
[outfile] to encrypt data (if
outfile is not
specified, the encrypted data is written to the standard output), or
scrypt dec infile [outfile] to decrypt data (if
outfile is not specified, the decrypted data is written to
the standard output).
scrypt also supports three
-t maxtimewill instruct
scryptto spend at most
maxtimeseconds computing the derived encryption key from the password; for encryption, this value will determine how secure the encrypted data is, while for decryption this value is used as an upper limit (if
scryptdetects that it would take too long to decrypt the data, it will exit with an error message).
scryptto use at most the specified fraction of the available RAM for computing the derived encryption key. For encryption, increasing this value might increase the security of the encrypted data, depending on the
maxtimevalue; for decryption, this value is used as an upper limit and may cause
scryptto exit with an error.
scryptto use at most the specified number of bytes of RAM when computing the derived encryption key.
If the encrypted data is corrupt,
scrypt dec will exit with
a non-zero status. However,
scrypt dec may produce
output before it determines that the encrypted data was corrupt,
so for applications which require data to be authenticated, you must
store the output of
scrypt dec in a temporary location and
scrypt's exit code before using the decrypted data.
The scrypt project
Development of scrypt takes place in the scrypt git repository.
scrypt key derivation function and the
encryption utility are discussed on the
email@example.com mailing list.
scrypt utility has been tested on FreeBSD, NetBSD,
OpenBSD, Linux (Slackware, CentOS, Gentoo, Ubuntu), Solaris, OS X,
Cygwin, and GNU Hurd. To build
scrypt, extract the tarball
./configure && make.
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