questionable services

Technical writings about computing infrastructure, HTTP & security.

(by Matt Silverlock)



simple-scrypt is a convenience wrapper around Go’s existing scrypt library. The existing library has a limited API and doesn’t facilitate generating salts, comparing keys or retrieving the parameters used to generate a key. The last point is a limitation of the scrypt specification, which doesn’t enforce this by default. Using Go’s bcrypt library as inspiration, I pulled together a more complete scrypt package with some “sane defaults” to make it easier to get started. The library provides functionality to provide your own parameters via the scrypt.Params type, and the public API should be rock solid (I’m planning to tag a v1.0 very soon).

scrypt itself, for those that don’t know, is a memory-hard key derivation function (KDF) entirely suitable for deriving strong keys from ‘weak’ input (i.e. user passwords). It’s often described as a way to ‘hash’ passwords, but unlike traditional hashes (SHA-1, the SHA-2 family, etc.) that are designed to be fast, it’s designed to be “configurably” slow. This makes it ideal for storing user passwords in a way that makes it very hard to brute force or generate rainbow tables against.

Here’s an example of how to get started with it for deriving strong keys from user passwords (e.g. via a web form):

package main



func main() {
    // e.g. r.PostFormValue("password")
    passwordFromForm := "prew8fid9hick6c"

    // Generates a derived key of the form "N$r$p$salt$dk" where N, r and p are defined as per
    // Colin Percival's scrypt paper:
    // scrypt.Defaults (N=16384, r=8, p=1) makes it easy to provide these parameters, and
    // (should you wish) provide your own values via the scrypt.Params type.
    hash, err := scrypt.GenerateFromPassword([]byte(passwordFromForm), scrypt.DefaultParams)
    if err != nil {

    // Print the derived key with its parameters prepended.
    fmt.Printf("%s\n", hash)

    // Uses the parameters from the existing derived key. Return an error if they don't match.
    err := scrypt.CompareHashAndPassword(hash, []byte(passwordFromForm))
    if err != nil {

The package also provides functions to compare a password with an existing key using scrypt.CompareHashAndPassword and to retrieve the parameters used in a previously generated key via scrypt.Cost. The latter is designed to make it easy to upgrade parameters as hardware improves.

Pull requests are welcome, and I have a few things on the to-do list to make it configurable based on hardware performance.

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