GROGGS Shared Secrets

Though you don't (usually) need any special priveleges (or to register) to read GROGGS, you do need to register in order to be able to reply. This is because the GROGGS server needs to know who to attribute replies to (you may also need to register to access restricted information in the form of edit logs and the like via. something like greadedits).

GROGGS registration (at least for people in the University) is quite nearly automatic - you send your registration request to the GROGGS server, and recieve in response a mail message (sent to an address based on your userid) containing a secret number in hexadecimal format. You must keep this number secret - anyone who obtains it can masquerade as you. If anyone steals your secret number, you should report this to the editors at once.

In general, you will be issued with a different secret number for each server, and if you use more than one server regularly, you'll have to use an extended grogsecret file.

In order to prevent people looking over your shoulder when you're viewing your profile, unless the switch /secureterm is on, grogprofile won't display your secret on the screen unless you change it.

By default, your shared secret is kept in the file ~/.groggsecret, which is set up so that it is readable only by you. You should take care not to let this file fall into the wrong hands.

The format of the file is the word 'md5-secret' followed by some spaces and then your secret in hexadecimal format.

greadnew just uses .groggsecret, but WrenGROGGS allows for two secrets files - .groggsecret for level 2 secrets, and .rogroggsecret for level 1 secrets (WrenGROGGS does not support editoral access yet - when it does, there will be a separate file for level 3 secrets). WrenGROGGS can also read the extended grogsecret format, which allows you to specify different secrets for combinations of server and userid. However, if you use this facility, you can no longer use greadnew (greadnew chokes on the files). A future release of WrenGROGGS will circumvent this problem.

For the very interested (or the chronically bored), the protocol used by the GROGGS server goes something like this :

At present, WrenGROGGS (and the server) only support an md5-based authentication mechanism.

A is the client, S is the server, N_X is a nonce, U_A is A's userid, ^(X) is the bitwise inverse of X, S is the shared secret, and MD5() is an md-5 hash of its arguments (MD5 is specified in RFC 1321). All nonces are 16 bytes long, and the userid is truncated to 16 characters or padded to 16 characters with ' '. A fuller description can be found in the protocol spec. here.

S -> A : N_S
A -> S : MD5(N_A, N_S, U_A, ^(S)), N_A
S -> A : MD5(N_S, N_A, U_A,   S)
(note the inversion of S and the switch of N_S and N_A - these eliminate a pair of attacks).

Some points about the protocol :

.. and some points about GROGGS security in general. You should probably read the protocol before reading this :
Return to WrenGROGGS configuration, or to the WrenGROGGS home page.
Last modified: Thu Nov 2 18:17:22 1995
Richard Watts <>