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The Diffie-Hellman key exchange method allows two parties that have no prior knowledge of each other to jointly establish a shared secret key over an insecure channel. This key can then be used to encrypt subsequent communications using a symmetric key cipher.


diffie_hellman(key, pubkey)



your private key


other person's public key


Returns a shared secret key which can be used in e.g. data_encrypt.


Encryption methods as implemented in data_encrypt require that parties have a shared secret key. But often we wish to establish a secure channel with a party we have no prior relationship with. Diffie-hellman is a method for jointly agreeing on a shared secret without ever exchanging the secret itself. Sodium implements Curve25519, a state-of-the-art Diffie-Hellman function suitable for a wide variety of applications.

The method conists of two steps (see examples). First, both parties generate a random private key and derive the corresponding public key using pubkey. These public keys are not confidential and can be exchanged over an insecure channel. After the public keys are exchanged, both parties will be able to calculate the (same) shared secret by combining his/her own private key with the other person's public key using diffie_hellman.

After the shared secret has been established, the private and public keys are disposed, and parties can start encrypting communications based on the shared secret using e.g. data_encrypt. Because the shared secret cannot be calculated using only the public keys, the process is safe from eavesdroppers.


# Bob generates keypair
bob_key <- keygen()
bob_pubkey <- pubkey(bob_key)

# Alice generates keypair
alice_key <- keygen()
alice_pubkey <- pubkey(alice_key)

# After Bob and Alice exchange pubkey they can both derive the secret
alice_secret <- diffie_hellman(alice_key, bob_pubkey)
bob_secret <- diffie_hellman(bob_key, alice_pubkey)
stopifnot(identical(alice_secret, bob_secret))