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A public-key signature system based on Ed25519 for the NATS ecosystem.

Project description

NKEYS for Python3

License Apache 2

A public-key signature system based on Ed25519 for the NATS ecosystem.


The NATS ecosystem will be moving to Ed25519 keys for identity, authentication and authorization for entities such as Accounts, Users, Servers and Clusters.

Ed25519 is fast and resistant to side channel attacks. Generation of a seed key is all that is needed to be stored and kept safe, as the seed can generate both the public and private keys.

The NATS system will utilize Ed25519 keys, meaning that NATS systems will never store or even have access to any private keys. Authentication will utilize a random challenge response mechanism.

Dealing with 32 byte and 64 byte raw keys can be challenging. NKEYS is designed to formulate keys in a much friendlier fashion and references work done in cryptocurrencies, specifically Stellar. Bitcoin and others used a form of Base58 (or Base58Check) to endode raw keys. Stellar utilized a more traditonal Base32 with a CRC16 and a version or prefix byte. NKEYS utilizes a similar format where the prefix will be 1 byte for public and private keys and will be 2 bytes for seeds. The base32 encoding of these prefixes will yield friendly human readbable prefixes, e.g. 'N' = server, 'C' = cluster, 'O' = operator, 'A' = account, and 'U' = user. 'P' is used for private keys. For seeds, the first encoded prefix is 'S', and the second character will be the type for the public key, e.g. "SU" is a seed for a user key pair, "SA" is a seed for an account key pair.


pip install nkeys

Basic API Usage

import nkeys
import os

# Create an NKEYS KeyPair from a seed file.
user = None
with open("user.nkey", 'rb', buffering=0) as f:

  # We compute the size of the file to allocate the required
  # bytearray size in order to have control over the memory
  # and be able to wipe it once the keys are not needed anymore.
  seed = bytearray(os.fstat(f.fileno()).st_size)
  user = nkeys.from_seed(seed)

# Sign some data with the KeyPair user.
data = b'arGTKH8q7XDmgy0'
sig = user.sign(data)

# Verify the signature
  user.verify(data, sig)
except nkeys.ErrInvalidSignature as e:
  print("Error:", e)

# Access the seed, the only thing that needs to be stored and kept safe.

# Remove any secrets that were in use by the KeyPair.


Unless otherwise noted, the NATS source files are distributed under the Apache Version 2.0 license found in the LICENSE file.

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