GnuPG with Yubikey NEO

YubiKey NEO

Prerequisites

  • Yubico installed and setup as described in Yubikey NEO.

  • Disabled the GPG-Agent of Gnome Keyring Daemon.

  • GnuPG installed and configured as in GNU Privacy Guard (including GPG Agent).

Additional Software

  • pcsd - A daemon to access smart cards using the SCard API (PC/SC) in Linux.

  • scdaemon - Smart card support for GNU privacy guard

Install these as follows:

> sudo apt install pcscd scdaemon

GnuPG should now be able to access the Yubikey Neo as a smart card:

> gpg --card-status
Reader ...........: 1050:0116:X:0
Application ID ...: D2760001240102000000012345670000
Version ..........: 2.0
Manufacturer .....: Yubico
Serial number ....: 01234567
Name of cardholder:[not set]
Language prefs ...:[not set]
Sex ..............:unspecified
URL of public key :[not set]
Login data .......:[not set]
Signature PIN ....:[not set]
Key attributes ...: rsa2048 rsa2048 rsa2048
Max. PIN lengths .: 127 127 127
PIN retry counter : 3 3 3
Signature counter : 0
Signature key ....:[not set]
Encryption key....:[not set]
Authentication key:[not set]
General key info..:[none]

Setup the Yubikey NEO

Use GnuPG’s card-edit command to configure the card:

> gpg card-edit

Setting PIN codes

The Smartcard has two PIN codes:

  1. Regular PIN to unlock the private key stored on the card, so it can be used for decryption or authentication.

  2. Administration PIN to reset the regular PIN or reset the private key storage.

  3. A reset PIN to reset the counter of remaining PIN entry attempts

Warning

Entering a wrong Administration PIN three times in a row destroys the card! There is no way to unblock the card when a wrong Administration PIN has been entered three times.

Yubikey NEO is shipped with …

… a default regular PIN code of 123456.

… a default Administration PIN code of 12345678

gpg/card> admin
Admin commands are allowed

gpg/card> passwd
gpg: OpenPGP card no. D2760001240102000000012345670000 detected

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? 1

Select 1 to change the regular PIN.

You will be asked for the current regular PIN, which is 123456 on a new Yubikey.

You will be asked twice for the new regular PIN.

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? 3

Select 3 to change the Administration PIN.

You will be asked for the current Administration PIN, which is 12345678 on a new Yubikey.

You will be asked twice for the new regular PIN.

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? 4

You will be asked twice for the new reset PIN.

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? q

gpg/card> quit

The Yubikey is now ready for use with GnuPG.

Store Your Key on the Yubikey

Note

This will move your private key to the card. It will no longer be available on your desktop computer without the Yubikey.

Start by opening your key with GnuPG for editing:

> gpg --edit-key 0x0123456789ABCDEF

Secret key is available.

sec  rsa2048/0x0123456789ABCDEF
     created: 2014-01-15  expires: 2019-01-14  usage: SCA
     trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
ssb  rsa2048/0x0123456789AAAAAA
     created: 2014-01-15  expires: 2019-01-14  usage: E
ssb  rsa2048/0x6E0D7F94789BBBBB
     created: 2016-07-02  expires: 2019-01-14  usage: A
[  ultimate] (1). John Doe <john@example.net>
[  ultimate] (2)  John Doe <john@example.org>
[  ultimate] (3)  [jpeg image of size 23712]

At the gpg> prompt enter keytocard to start the operation:

gpg> keytocard

On other Systems

Thanks to the Yubikey, our private keys are no longer stored on and tied to a personal computer. The Yubikey can be plugged in at any computer system and our private keys are ready for use … Right?

Unfortunately thats not the case. For the following reasons:

  1. As shown on the beginning of this guide, additional software, usually not pre-installed, is used to access the Yubikey or GnuPG Smartcard.

  2. Second, the local GnuPG key-rings don’t have any knowledge of the public and private keys. The private keys are stored on the Yubikey only and the public keys are nowhere at all.

So to use your PGP keys stored on a Yubikey or GnuPG Smartcard the following steps need to be taken:

  1. Install required software:

    > sudo apt install pcscd scdaemon
    
  2. Download the corresponding public keys of your private keys and add them to your local keyring:

    > gpg --card-edit
    gpg/card> fetch
    gpg/card> exit
    
  3. Edit key:

    $> gpg --edit-key 0x0123456789ABCDEF
    Secret key is available.
    
  4. Set trust:

    gpg> trust
    
    Please decide how far you trust this user to correctly verify other users
    keys (by looking at passports, checking fingerprints from different sources,
    etc.)
    
      1 = I don't know or won't say
      2 = I do NOT trust
      3 = I trust marginally
      4 = I trust fully
      5 = I trust ultimately
      m = back to the main menu
    
    Your decision? 5
    Do you really want to set this key to ultimate trust? (y/N) y
    

The local GnuPG installation has now the means to access your private key stored in the Yubikey or GnuPG Smartcard and it knows about your public keys.