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I need to store a user's password for a short period of time in memory. How can I do so yet not have such information accidentally disclosed in coredumps or tracebacks? Is there a way to mark a value as "sensitive", so it's not saved anywhere by a debugger?


I have made a solution that uses ctypes (which in turn uses C) to zero memory.

import sys
import ctypes

def zerome(string):
    location = id(string) + 20
    size     = sys.getsizeof(string) - 20

    memset =  ctypes.cdll.msvcrt.memset
    # For Linux, use the following. Change the 6 to whatever it is on your computer.
    # memset =  ctypes.CDLL("").memset

    print "Clearing 0x%08x size %i bytes" % (location, size)

    memset(location, 0, size)

I make no guarantees of the safety of this code. It is tested to work on x86 and CPython 2.6.2. A longer writeup is here.

Decrypting and encrypting in Python will not work. Strings and Integers are interned and persistent, which means you are leaving a mess of password information all over the place.

Hashing is the standard answer, though of course the plaintext eventually needs to be processed somewhere.

The correct solution is to do the sensitive processes as a C module.

But if your memory is constantly being compromised, I would rethink your security setup.

Asymmetric Encrypting of sensitive data in memory (Python), Sometimes it is necessary to encrypt data between read and write cycles, where for instance we have a device which takes sensitive data and Asymmetric Encrypting of sensitive data in memory (Python) label=None It is also possible to encrypt data with the private key, such that it is only read using the public key, but this is bad practice and causes more problems than it solves. Cryptography — the python package. The python package which we shall be using is called cryptography and can be installed using pip install cryptography. Key Generation

Hiding Sensitive Data from Logs with Python, relaxdiego Mark Maglana's Technical Blog. Hiding Sensitive Data from Logs with Python 05 Jul 2014 : 10 minute read  Masks in python. When working with data arrays masks can be extremely useful. Masks are an array of boolean values for which a condition is met (examples below). These boolean arrays are then used to sort in the original data array (say we only want values above a given value). Here we will use numpy arrays which are especially good for

No way to "mark as sensitive", but you could encrypt the data in memory and decrypt it again when you need to use it -- not a perfect solution but the best I can think of.

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based on culix's answer: the following works with Linux 64-bit architecture. Tested on Debian based systems.

import sys 
import ctypes

def nuke(var_to_nuke):
    strlen = len(var_to_nuke)
    offset = sys.getsizeof(var_to_nuke) - strlen - 1
    ctypes.memset(id(var_to_nuke) + offset, 0, strlen)
    del var_to_nuke               # derefrencing the pointer.

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