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Andrew Ayer


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git-crypt - transparent file encryption in git

git-crypt enables transparent encryption and decryption of files in a git repository. Files which you choose to protect are encrypted when committed, and decrypted when checked out. git-crypt lets you freely share a repository containing a mix of public and private content. git-crypt gracefully degrades, so developers without the secret key can still clone and commit to a repository with encrypted files. This lets you store your secret material (such as keys or passwords) in the same repository as your code, without requiring you to lock down your entire repository.

Using git-crypt

Generate a secret key:

git-crypt keygen /path/to/keyfile

Configure a repository to use encryption:

cd repo

git-crypt init /path/to/keyfile

Specify files to encrypt by creating a .gitattributes file in the repository, like this:

secretfile1 filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt

secretfile2 filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt

*.secret filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt

Like a .gitignore file, it can match wildcards and should be checked into the repository. Make sure you don't accidentally encrypt the .gitattributes file itself!

Cloning a repository with encrypted files:

git clone /path/to/repo

cd repo

git-crypt init /path/to/keyfile

That's all you need to do - after running git-crypt init, you can use git normally - encryption and decryption happen transparently.


I wanted to make a configuration management repository open for others to look at and contribute to (à la Wikimedia's Puppet repository). However, the repository contained secret material, like SSL keys and passwords. git-crypt was developed so the secret material could be protected without having to remove it from the repository (which is what Wikimedia had to do).

Getting git-crypt

You can get the source via git:

git clone

You can compile with make and install the git-crypt binary wherever you want (such as /usr/local/bin). See below for build dependencies.


To use git-crypt, you need:

  • Git 1.6.0 or newer
  • OpenSSL
  • For decrypted git diff output, Git 1.6.1 or newer
  • For decrypted git blame output, Git 1.7.2 or newer

To build git-crypt, you need a C++ compiler, and OpenSSL development headers. The Makefile is tailored for g++, but other compilers should work too.

Current Status

The latest version of git-crypt is 0.3, released on 2013-04-05. git-crypt aims to be bug-free and reliable, meaning it shouldn't crash, malfunction, or expose your confidential data. However, it has not yet reached maturity, meaning it is not as documented, featureful, or easy-to-use as it should be. Additionally, there may be backwards-incompatible changes introduced before version 1.0.

Development on git-crypt is currently focused on improving the user experience, especially around setting up repositories. There are also plans to add additional key management schemes, such as passphrase-derived keys and keys encrypted with PGP.


git-crypt is more secure that other transparent git encryption systems. git-crypt encrypts files using AES-256 in CTR mode with a synthetic IV derived from the SHA-1 HMAC of the file. This is provably semantically secure under deterministic chosen-plaintext attack. That means that although the encryption is deterministic (which is required so git can distinguish when a file has and hasn't changed), it leaks no information beyond whether two files are identical or not. Other proposals for transparent git encryption use ECB or CBC with a fixed IV. These systems are not semantically secure and leak information.

The AES key is stored unencrypted on disk. The user is responsible for protecting it and ensuring it's safely distributed only to authorized people. A future version of git-crypt may support encrypting the key with a passphrase.


git-crypt is not designed to encrypt an entire repository. Not only does that defeat the aim of git-crypt, which is the ability to selectively encrypt files and share the repository with less-trusted developers, there are probably better, more efficient ways to encrypt an entire repository, such as by storing it on an encrypted filesystem. Also note that git-crypt is somewhat of an abuse of git's smudge, clean, and textconv features. Junio Hamano, git's maintainer, has said not to do this, though his main objection ("making a pair of similar 'smudged' contents totally dissimilar in their 'clean' counterparts.") does not apply here since git-crypt uses deterministic encryption.

git-crypt does not itself provide any authentication. It assumes that either the master copy of your repository is stored securely, or that you are using git's existing facilities to ensure integrity (signed tags, remembering commit hashes, etc.).