The encipher command-line utility converts plaintext to ciphertext.

Example Usage

We list a few examples of the encipher command here to illustrate its usefulness and ease of use. To get started, lets encrypt a text file:

  encipher -verbose README.txt README.cip

The attributes are displayed and looks like this:

Filename: README.cip
    type: AES
    mode: CTR
    nonce: 85b5546f57c760620000000000000000
    method: Secret
    hash: SHA256
    length: 512
    session: b69f10215a7b65043faa45443017a8fccacecdd04073d1b9895bdd3a5eb8ace1
  Entropy Generator:
    type: BZip
    level: 6
  Keyed-Hashed Message Authentication Code:
    hash: SHA256
  Random Generator:
    hash: SHA256
  Chunksize: 8kb
    modify: 2009-01-19T20:41:19-05:00
    create: 2009-01-23T15:10:47-05:00
    timestamp: 2009-01-23T15:13:44-05:00
  Protocol: 1.0
  Version: WizardsToolkit 1.0.6 01/23/08 https://urban-warrior.org

Here Bob enciphers a message destinated for Alice. To restore the message content, Alice must know the secret key and also have a copy of Bob's private keyring:

  encipher -keyring ./keyring.xdm message.txt secret-message.cip

To ensure your ciphertext is not easily revealed, the encipher program takes these precautions:


If your command line does not include the -passphrase filename option, the passphrase is interactively requested and has a maximum length of 4096 characters and symbols. The phrase can be virtually unlimited if obtained from a file. Try to make your passphrases long and unpredictable.


Your secret key is stored in a password-protected private keyring. If you lose your keyring, it is impossible to restore your original message content.


If the encipher program appears to halt it may be waiting for your system to generate entropy. Move your mouse or press keystrokes in another window. Once enough entropy is generated, the encipher program will complete.


If simple mistakes are made, an exception message is displayed. For example if you use '-cpher' instead of '-cipher', cipher complains. However, if anything goes wrong inside the cipher engine, the program exits with a simple status code. This precaution is to prevent information leaks about the encipher process.

Option Summary

The encipher command recognizes these options. Click on an option to get more details about how that option works.

Option Description
-authenticate method authenticate with this method: Secret or Public
-chunksize bytes number of bytes in a chunk
-cipher type cipher to encrypt content
-debug events display copious debugging information
-(de)compress automagically (de)compress BZIP and ZIP files
-entropy type increase content entropy
-help print program options
-hmac hash ensure message integrity with this hash
-key hash strengthen the key with this hash
-key-length value cipher key length in bits: 256, 512, 1024, or 2048
-keyring filename get private key from this keyring
-level value entropy level: 1 (less entropy) to 9 (more entropy)
-list type print a list of supported option arguments
-log format format of debugging information
-mode type mode of encryption
-passphrase filename get the passphrase from this file
-properties filename cipher properties to/from this file
-random hash strengthen random data with this hash
-true-random strengthen enciphering with true random numbers
-verbose print detailed information about the secure content
-version print version information