Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Integrating SQLCipher with Cordova/PhoneGap sqlite plugin for iOS

NOTICE (June 2015): These instructions are completely out-of-date, the following Cordova plugin supports sqlcipher out-of-the-box: https://github.com/litehelpers/Cordova-sqlcipher-adapter

These directions are based on the sqlcipher iOS tutorial, with a few adaptations to integrate with a Cordova/PhoneGap project.

Start with a Cordova/PhoneGap iOS project (documented here for Cordova/PhoneGap 2.2.0).

Download & extract the OpenSSL source from www.openssl.org/source in a location that will be referenced later (I used OpenSSL 1.0.1c).

Inside the PhoneGap iOS project folder, clone the github sqlcipher & openssl-xcode projects using commands like the following:

$ git clone git@github.com:sqlcipher/sqlcipher.git
$ git clone git@github.com:sqlcipher/openssl-xcode.git

Download the OpenSSL source from www.openssl.org/source (I used OpenSSL 1.0.1c) & put the source tar.gz file in the openssl-xcode sub-folder.


Add the subproject references for sqlcipher & openssl-xcode. This can be achieved by:

  • selecting the top-level target at the top of the tree control;
  • press alt-command-a;
  • for openssl-xcode: select the openssl-xcode folder and then select openssl-xcode.xcodeproj &
  • repeat these steps for sqlcipher (select the sqlcipher folder & select sqlcipher.xcodeproj).
Configure build dependencies:

  • select the top-level target again;
  • click the Build Phases tab;
  • expand the Target Dependencies;
  • add crypto (click "+", select crypto, and press Add);
  • add sqlcipher

and add the libraries to link:

  • expand the Link Binary With Libraries;
  • click "+" to add
  • add both libcrypto.a & libsqlcipher.a

IMPORTANT: please make sure that no sqlite3 library is being added here.

CHECK POINT: at this point, it should be possible to build the project with the openssl & sqlcipher dependencies.

NOTE: a couple steps from the sqlcipher iOS tutorial were omitted since they should not be necessary. If the project does not build, here are some things to check & try:

  • Please double-check that all dependencies, including Target Dependencies & Link Binary With Libraries have been fulfilled.
  • If the sqlcipher/libcrypto does not build, please read through README.md under openssl-xcode. You may have to configure the location of the OpenSSL sources if nothing else works.
  • The SQLITE_HAS_CODEC C flag, which is necessary to build sqlcipher with its cipher capabilities, should be defined within the sqlcipher subproject. It should not be necessary to define this flag within the top-level application project, however it is noted here just in case.

It should now be possible to add SQLitePlugin.[hm] to the project Plugins folder & build again. The following patch to SQLitePlugin.m should enable the plugin to use database encryption:


diff --git a/iOS/Plugins/SQLitePlugin.m b/iOS/Plugins/SQLitePlugin.m
index 871bd89..3d62208 100644
--- a/iOS/Plugins/SQLitePlugin.m
+++ b/iOS/Plugins/SQLitePlugin.m
@@ -79,6 +79,9 @@
         return;
     }

+    const char *key = [[options objectForKey:@"key"] UTF8String];
+    sqlite3_key(db, key, strlen(key));
+
     dbPointer = [NSValue valueWithPointer:db];
     [openDBs setObject:dbPointer forKey: dbname];
     [self respond:callback withString: @"{ message: 'Database opened' }" withType:@"success"];



Add SQLitePlugin to Cordova.plist resources, add SQLitePlugin.js to the www folder, and include SQLitePlugin.js in index.html. Try a small test program, like the one from the brodyspark/ PhoneGap-SQLitePlugin-iOS homepage, but open the database with a statement like this:


var db = window.sqlitePlugin.openDatabase({name: "DB",
    key: "secret1"});


If you try the program again but with a different key, you should see a db error in the console log.

In the future, I would like to provide a script or boilerplate to make it easy to create Cordova/PhoneGap projects with encrypted storage working from the beginning.