Hubert Schölnast Hubert Schölnast - 3 months ago 23
iOS Question

What makes a keychain item unique (in iOS)?

My question concerns keychains in iOS (iPhone, iPad, ...). I think (but am not sure) that the implementation of keychains under Mac OS X raises the same question with the same answer.




iOS provides five types (classes) of keychain items. You must chose one of those five values for the key
kSecClass
to determine the type:

kSecClassGenericPassword used to store a generic password
kSecClassInternetPassword used to store an internet password
kSecClassCertificate used to store a certificate
kSecClassKey used to store a kryptographic key
kSecClassIdentity used to store an identity (certificate + private key)


After long time of reading apples documentation, blogs and forum-entries, I found out that a keychain item of type
kSecClassGenericPassword
gets its uniqueness from the attributes
kSecAttrAccessGroup
,
kSecAttrAccount
and
kSecAttrService
.

If those three attributes in request 1 are the same as in request 2, then you receive the same generic password keychain item, regardless of any other attributes. If one (or two or all) of this attributes changes its value, then you get different items.

But
kSecAttrService
is only available for items of type
kSecClassGenericPassword
, so it can't be part of the "unique key" of an item of any other type, and there seems to be no documentation that points out clearly which attributes uniquely determine a keychain item.

The sample code in the class "KeychainItemWrapper" of "GenericKeychain" uses the attribute
kSecAttrGeneric
to make an item unique, but this is a bug. The two entries in this example only are stored as two distinct entries, because their
kSecAttrAccessGroup
is different (one has the access group set, the other lets it free). If you try to add a 2nd password without an access group, using Apple's
KeychainItemWrapper
, you will fail.

So, please, answer my questions:


  • Is it true, that the combination of
    kSecAttrAccessGroup
    ,
    kSecAttrAccount
    and
    kSecAttrService
    is the "unique key" of a keychain item whose kSecClass is
    kSecClassGenericPassword
    ?

  • Which attributes makes a keychain item unique if its
    kSecClass
    is not
    kSecClassGenericPassword
    ?


Answer

The primary keys are as follows (derived from open source files from Apple, see Schema.m4, KeySchema.m4 and SecItem.cpp):

  • For a keychain item of class kSecClassGenericPassword, the primary key is the combination of kSecAttrAccount and kSecAttrService.
  • For a keychain item of class kSecClassInternetPassword, the primary key is the combination of kSecAttrAccount, kSecAttrSecurityDomain, kSecAttrServer, kSecAttrProtocol, kSecAttrAuthenticationType, kSecAttrPort and kSecAttrPath.
  • For a keychain item of class kSecClassCertificate, the primary key is the combination of kSecAttrCertificateType, kSecAttrIssuer and kSecAttrSerialNumber.
  • For a keychain item of class kSecClassKey, the primary key is the combination of kSecAttrApplicationLabel, kSecAttrApplicationTag, kSecAttrKeyType, kSecAttrKeySizeInBits, kSecAttrEffectiveKeySize, and the creator, start date and end date which are not exposed by SecItem yet.
  • For a keychain item of class kSecClassIdentity I haven't found info on the primary key fields in the open source files, but as an identity is the combination of a private key and a certificate, I assume the primary key is the combination of the primary key fields for kSecClassKey and kSecClassCertificate.

As each keychain item belongs to a keychain access group, it feels like the keychain access group (field kSecAttrAccessGroup) is an added field to all these primary keys.

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