webview-crypto

Helper code for crypto polyfil in a webview

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webview-crypto
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This repo provides some helper tools to run the Web Cryptography API in a WebView.
It is used in react-native-webview-crypto, nativescript-webview-crypto, and nativescript-angular-webview-crypto. It is not meant to be used directly, but simply serves as a common building block for those libraries.

Why?

The Web Cryptography API is implemented in all major browsers and provides performant and secure way of doing client side encryption in JavaScript. However it is not supported in NativeScript or React Native, which limits them from using Javascript libraries that depend on Web Crypto.
Luckily, the iOS and Android browser engines do support this API. We can use their implementations by creating a WebView and communicating with it asynchronously.

Usage

We provide two entrypoints in this repo.

Main Thread

MainWorker is used in your main thread. It communicates to the WebView asynchronously with string messages, providing a crypto attribute that fulfills the Crypto interface. If you set this to be globally defined, all applications that depend on window.crypto will work transperently.
import {MainWorker} from "webview-crypto";

function sendToWebView(message: string): void {
  // sends `message` to the webview
}

var mw = new MainWorker(sendToWebView); // optional second argument for debug on or off

// call `mw.onWebViewMessage` whenever you get a message from the WebView
onWebViewMessage(mv.onWebViewMessage.bind(mv));

mw.crypto.subtle.generateKey(
  // whatever
)

window.crypto = mw.crypto;

WebView

WebViewWorkerSource is a string that contains the source defining a WebViewWorker constructor that should be used in your WebView.
After loading that Javascript in the WebView, initialize WebViewWorker so that it can communicate with the main thread and do the work of executing the cryptography.
function sendToMain(message: string): void {
  // send `message` to the main thread
}
var wvw = new WebViewWorker(sendToMain);

// call `wvw.onMainMessage` whenever you get a message from the main thread
onMainMessage(wvw.onMainMessage.bind(wvw));

Tests

We have some unit tests for basic behavior here. Run npm run test:local to run them in a local browser. You also need to run npm run build:watch to recompute the webViewWorkerString injected as needed.
In Travis CI, they run on iOS, Android, and Chrome through SauceLabs.
While these tests do help catch some bugs, they do not provide any strong reassurance that this library will work in React Native and Typescript. That's because on those platforms, half the code is running in a WebView and the other half in their native JavaScript engine, which is either JavaScriptCore or V8. I haven't come up with a way to test this in an automated fashion.
So in addition to local unit tests, all code changes that might break something should be tested against the example repos (React Native and NativeScript) on both iOS and Android.
I welcome suggestions on improving this process and making it more automated.

Caveats

While this attempts to as stick to the Web Cryptography API as possible, this is impossible in a few situations due to the differing browser implementations.

Incomplete Support

This library is limited by the mobile browser's support. On iOS, the WebView's use WebKit, which has limited and incomplete support (example). If something isn't working, that might be why. Try it on Safari and see if it works there.

getRandomValues

Since this uses an asynchronous bridge to execute the crypto logic it can't quite execute crypto.getRandomValues correctly, because that method returns a value synchronously. It is simply impossible (as far as I know, please let me know if there any ways to get around this) to wait for the bridge to respond asynchronously before returning a value.
Instead, we add a _promise attribute to the TypedArray you passed in. This resolves when the TypedArray has been filled with random values.
Also, on all crypto.subtle methods that takes in TypedArrays, we will automatically wait for it to resolve. This means that if you are using the TypedArray in further cryptographic code, it will work transparently. So hopefully existing code that uses the Web Cryptography API will continue to work without modification.

CryptoKey

Since JavaScriptCore does not support window.Crypto, it also doesn't have a CryptoKey interface. So instead of returning an actual CryptoKey from subtle.generateKey() we instead return an object that confirms to the CryptoKey interface and has a _import property that has the value of the key exported as jwk or using the value for importing the key. This allows you to treat the CryptoKey as you would normally, and whenever you need to use it in some subtle method, we will automatically convert it back to a real CryptoKey from the _import string and the metadata.
This project was funded by Burke Software and Consulting LLC for passit.